Fencing has been contested at every Summer Olympic Games since the birth of the modern Olympic movement at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Great Britain has been represented in fencing at every Games other than 1896 & 1904.


GBR Olympic Medals in Fencing

Gold: Gillian Sheen won the Gold Medal in the Women’s Foil Individual event in 1956


  • Men’s Team Epee – 1908, 1912 and 1960
  • Gladys Davis took silver in the first ever Women’s Foil Individual event (1924), followed by two more Women’s Foil Individual event medals in consecutive Olympics – 1928 (Muriel Freeman) and 1932 (Judy Guiness)
  • Men’s Team Individual in 1960 (Allan Jay)
  • Men’s Epee Individual  in 1964 (Henry (Bill) Hoskyns)

The best result in recent Games was achieved by Richard Kruse who was 4th in the Men’s Foil Individual Event in the Rio 2016 Games.


Olympic Events in Fencing

Fencing started in 1896 with men’s foil and men’s sabre events, with men’s epee joining the programme in 1900. Women’s foil made its Olympic debut in Paris, during the 1924 Olympic Games, followed by Women’s epee in 1996 and Women’s sabre in 2004.

Tokyo 2020 will be the first Games to feature events in all weapons across both genders in individual and team events.


The Olympic Weapons

There are three weapons in Olympic fencing:

  • Foil — a light thrusting weapon; the valid target is restricted to the torso; double touches are not allowed.
  • Épée — a heavy thrusting weapon; the valid target area covers the entire body; double touches are allowed.
  • Sabre — a light cutting and thrusting weapon; the valid target area includes almost everything above the waist (excluding the back of the head and the hands); double touches are not allowed.

Watch these videos to see each weapon explained:







The Olympic Event Format

The format of the fencing events at the Olympics have changed over the years to adapt to the modern version of the sport and the increased numbers of nations participating.

The majority of individual fencing events (including European and World Championships) typically involve a preliminary round of poules where groups of fencers all fence each other to 5 hits. The results from this round are used to seed a knock-out tableau which in fencing is called ‘direct elimination’ (DE). DE bouts are up to 15 hits or a maximum of 9mins fencing time at which point the fencer with the most points/hits scored wins.

In the Olympics there is no preliminary round of poules. Fencers are seeded by World Ranking and the competition is a straight knock-out.

Team events are also straight knock-out events. A team match is a 3 a-side relay event up to 45 hits, with each fencer taking it in turns to fence each member of the opposing team for a maximum of 3 minutes up to a maximum number of hits depending on the leg.

The first leg stops when one team reaches 5 (or time runs out). The next leg stops when one team reaches 10 (or time runs out). And so on until 45, or time runs out at which point the team with the most points/hits wins.






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