Fencing requires a significant level of precision and speed. Two athletes compete against each other armed with thrusting, sword type weapons. They can score points by hitting various parts of the body. Olympic fencing has three categories, each with its own distinct weapon.
The foil is light and used exclusively to thrust with. Competitors are only permitted to hit their opponent’s torso. It is also illegal to double touch when hitting.
Épées are significantly heavier and demand a stronger arm to wield them. This type of fencing allows double touching. Furthermore, any part of the body is a valid target.
Finally, sabre fencing features not just thrusting, but also cutting movements. All parts of the opponent’s body above the waist are targets, excluding the hands and back of the head. Double touches are not permitted.
Fencing at the Olympics
The weapons seen in fencing are based on ones used in real life historical conflicts. However, extensive protocols are put in place to ensure that athletes are kept safe. They dress in protective armour and have face covers. The weapons used are either blunted or corked to prevent injuries.
The first modern version of the Olympics took place in 1896. Fencing was one of the sports which were included in this event. It has endured over the years and continues to be a mainstay of the Games. Women’s fencing was introduced during the Paris Olympics in 1924.
An individual Olympic match will include three rounds which last three minutes each. The winner will attain 15 points first. Alternatively, they will be the player with the highest score at the end of the match. At the beginning of each fencing round, the players salute each other and the referee. If they fail to do this, then they may even be docked a point.