Updated: 25/07/2012 09:08 | By pa.press.net

FENCING



Fencing

The sport of fencing has a long association with the Olympics and can boast many notable records.

As one of only four sports to feature at every modern Games, fencing is also one of the few to have acknowledged professionals prior to the 1980s, with the founder of the Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, stating in the original charter that professional fencers, known as 'masters', could compete.

In addition, one of the all-time Olympic fencing greats holds a unique medal record. While swimming and gymnastics can boast the two athletes with the most overall medals in Michael Phelps and Larysa Latynina respectively, Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich is the only athlete in any sport to have won the same Olympic event six consecutive times - a feat he achieved in the men's team sabre between 1932 and 1960, with his last gold coming at the age of 50.

Fencing has always moved with the times to take advantage of technological developments, especially in terms of the protective clothing worn by fencers, which includes a mask, chest guard and gloves.

A notable recent introduction was the automated electronic scoring system that relies on sensors in the suits to count the number of hits that are recorded.

The foil, epee and sabre are the three weapons used in fencing and both men and women compete, with the first female events being staged in 1924.

The target areas, as well as the blade, differ for each of the weapons but the object remains the same, with fencers aiming to display speed, guile and adaptability to score hits, while at the same time avoiding being struck by an opponent.

Both men and women contest each event on an individual basis, with team events for both genders in the foil, for the men in sabre and for the women in epee.

Individuals compete in bouts that last for three rounds of three minutes or until one fencer has scored 15 hits. If the scores are level at the end of that period, one extra minute is fenced and the first to score wins.

In the team events, three fencers compete against their opponents over a series of nine bouts, with the aim of accumulating a maximum of 45 hits.

All 10 medal events are run in a knockout format at the Olympics, with duels being held on a 14 metre by 1.5m piste.

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