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  • Fencing developed as a sport from the use of the sword as a means of defence and attack dating from the Middle Ages. Gradually the swords became lighter, and the fencing mask, to prevent eye and head injuries, which was invented in France, became standard.

  • Fencing has been represented in the Olympic Games since 1896. A women’s individual event was first included in 1924, but it was not until the Games of 1960 that a women’ team event was introduced.


  • Fencing takes place on along narrow mat and known as the piste. It must be up to 2 metres wide, at least 14 metres long, and evenly lit.

  • There is a centre line and 2 metres each side of this line are the on-guard lines. Other lines are marked at intervals down the piste ending in one 7 metres from the centre, beyond which the fencers cannot continue.


  • There are three types of sword used in fencing: the foil, épée, and sabre. Clothing must be of strong material and all white: a jacket made of canvas-like material, breeches to the knees, then white socks and strong training shoes. A protective glove is worn on the hand that holds the sword, and a meshed metal protective helmet.


  • Different rules govern competitions featuring the three weapons. Hits are recorded against a fencer rather than to the fencer scoring the point. Thus the competitor with the highest score is the loser.

  • Bouts can last for six, ten or twelve minutes. The first fencer to score five, eight and 10 hits in these times wins. To be valid a hit must be made on the opponent’s target area, which is different for each type of sword. For the foil the whole of the trunk, back and front, is the target.

  • The épée target is every part of the fencer’s body. The sabre target is the whole of the body, back and front, above the hips.


  • Aladar Gerevich was born in Hungary 1910 and died in May 1991. He was the member of a sabre winning team in every Olympic Games between 1932 and 1960. He was 52 when he won his last gold. Aladar Gerevich was the only man in history to win the gold medal at six successive Olympics.


  • Match fixing is not as new as one might think. In 1924, at the Paris Olympics, a scandal hit the Italian fencing team led by Pullutti, and they were disqualified. By chance, Pullutti had been drawn to face one of the two other Italians in the competition, and was said to have deliberately ‘squared’ or fixed the match.

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