How to “Become” an Olympic FencerOlympiaFencingCenter
Just like the United States Fencing Association is the governing body of the North American fencing, the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE) is the governing body of fencing, at the international level.
Not only fencing, but all the sports competing at the Olympics have their own governing body, and their own rules/qualification paths to the Games.
How does one can fulfill their Olympic dreams?? How do we make it to the Olympics?
There are two ways:
- FIE ranking, teams and individual.
- Zonal qualifying tournaments.
The FIE divides the world up into four zones: Africa
Team fencing qualification for the Olympics
What makes a team?
There are three fencers making a team, and a fourth fencer, as an alternate.
How does one make the team?
The qualification paths for the Olympic team in any sport can vary from country to country.
In the United States, to qualify for the team one must fulfill the following requirements:
- You must be a United States national with a valid US passport, and over the age of 13.
- Top 3 athletes on the USA Fencing Senior Team qualify for the team, with the fourth athlete on the list becoming the alternate.
Team qualifier for the Olympics
There are eight teams for each team event in the Olympics, women’s and men’s, for each weapon, sabre, foil, and epee. The top four teams by overall rank at the end of the qualifying period (March 2021, in the case of Tokyo Olympics), regardless of zone, are in. The next four spots go to the top-ranked fencing team in each of those four zones, as long as they are in the top 16 in the world team ranking overall. If a zone doesn’t have a team in the top sixteen that is not already qualified, the next highest-ranked team from any zone is qualified.
The team determination factors into who fences in the individual competition: 3 fencers from each qualifying country can fence in the individual competition and it is up to that country to define which are these 3 fencers based on their own criteria and qualification process.
Individual fencing qualification for the Olympics
Qualifying for the individual events in Olympic fencing is first based on the team qualification. There are 34 fencers who qualify for each of the twelve individual events. Let’s break down who gets into the rounds for individual fencers.
- 3 fencers from each team (24 total fencers)
- Top 2 fencers from the Europe region
- Top 2 fencers from the Asia-Oceania region
- Top 1 fencer from the African region
- Top 1 fencer from the Americas region
- 4 fencers, one per zone, through zonal qualifying tournaments
- *8 additional individual fencers from the host country, spread across all categories in addition to the 34.
- Important to note that in the above individual selection athletes from already qualified countries are skipped, regardless of their ranking, to broaden the countries diversity in the Olympic Games
Qualifying for the individual fencing tournament in the Olympics is not easy, and to build to that level takes many years of working through high-level, international competitions. In addition, the team component of qualifying for fencers adds another whole dimension that is unusual and changes the dynamic. And since this path is the best to qualify for the Olympics and allows 3 fencers from that country to compete individually, the team competition at the international level is super important and super prestigious. And that’s understandable: if a country’s team is qualified via team path, then 3 fencers from that country participate in the individual event; if not – in the best case, only 1 fencer would be able to qualify.
You made it to the Olympics; now what?
Here are the basics for both individual and teams:
- Preliminaries (starting with direct elimination table of 64)
Individuals are eliminated through a direct elimination tournament format. The final two fencers vie for Gold and Silver medals, while the third and fourth place fencers go for the Bronze in a separate match (we all know that in regular competitions, there is no fencing for the third place).
Individual fencing bouts in the Olympics go to nine minutes or fifteen points.
Team competition is similar with our national events: a round robin of each team competing against each other, allowing each member of a team to fence against each member of the opposing team once, for nine total bouts. Team fencing bouts are three minutes long and go to five touches. Rounds continue until a team gets forty-five points, or the team with the highest score at the end of the time wins if no one gets to forty-five touches. As with individual fencing, teams are organized in direct elimination format and final bouts for Gold/Silver and Bronze/4th place.
This post is a summary of ” The Basics of Olympic Fencing” from the Academy of Fencing Masters Blog, who appeared in three parts, in July 2021.
See the original articles here.
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