Sport Focus: 12 Things You Didn't Know About Fencing

April 2, 2019

While Fencing has not been included in the Commonwealth Games since 1970, it was one of Scotland’s most successful sports during its 20 years in the Games. This success has continued with Scottish fencers making their mark on the global stage, including at the Commonwealth Championships.  To round off our ‘Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future’ Sport Focus, here are 12 things you might not know about the sport:

1. There are three disciplines within Fencing – Foil, Epee and Sabre – which all have different rules and scoring areas.

2. Fencing was first included in the Commonwealth Games in 1950 and was included in every Games over a 20 year period, with Edinburgh 1970 the last Games for Fencing to date. Scottish fencers won a total of eight Commonwealth Games medals over this time: two gold, four silver and two bronze.

3. Alexander (Sandy) Leckie is Scotland’s top Commonwealth Games fencer with two gold and two silver medals between 1962 and 1970. He remains Scotland’s only Commonwealth Games fencing gold medallist. He also competed at three Olympic Games, making the last 16 in 1968.

4. Since the change of Fencing from a core sport to an optional sport at the Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Fencing Championships have been held every four years on the same cycle as the Commonwealth Games.

5. Scottish fencers have continued to enjoy medal success, winning 10 gold, 25 silver and 33 bronze since the Championships began in 1974.

6. Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Championships to date was in 2014 where the team won 11 medals including three gold: Jamie Fitzgerald in Men’s Foil, Georgina Usher in Women’s Epee and the Women’s Sabre team of Alice Watson, Jennifer Sancroft, Michelle Guarino, Kate Daykin and Jessica Corby.

7. Fencing is one of only five sports to be included at every Olympic Games since 1896, the others are Swimming, Cycling, Athletics and Gymnastics.

8. Women have competed in Fencing at the Olympic Games since 1924, with Foil originally the only weapon available. Women’s Epee was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games and Sabre not until Athens 2004.

9. The first international Wheelchair Fencing tournament took place in the 1950s and the sport has been a part of the Paralympic Games since 1960. All three disciplines are contested.

10. There was originally no time limit on a fencing bout, until a Masters Championship bout in New York in the 1930s lasted for seven hours. Thereafter, bouts were limited to 30 minutes. Today, the time-limit has been reduced to just 3 minutes for 5-touch bouts and 9 minutes for 15 touches.

11. Fencers wear white uniforms because before the advent of electronic scoring, touches were recorded on the white surface with a wad of ink-soaked cotton on the tips of the weapons. Electronic scoring was first introduced in 1935 for Epee, 1955 for Foil and was first used at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games for Sabre.

12. In February 2019 the French Fencing Federation recognised lightsabre duelling as an official sport for the first time.

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