The Burgs Summer Olympics series: Fencing
The 2012 Summer Olympics kick off today in London.
Thousands of athletes from across the world will test their skills in sports such as diving, wrestling, track and field,
volleyball and even badminton.
We turned to local athletes who specialize in these sports, asking them for tips and what to look for during the epic event.
DESCRIPTION: Three types of weapons are used in Olympic fencing. In bouts using the foil and the slightly heavier epee, hits are scored by hitting an opponent with the tip of the weapon. In sabre, hits are more commonly scored with the edge of the weapon.
Epee allows both fencers to score at the same time, while foil and sabre have rules of right of way and timing that mean only one fencer can score a hit at a time.
Individual fencing bouts last for three periods of three minutes each, or until one fencer has scored 15 hits against his/her opponent. In the team events, teams of three fencers compete against their opponents over a series of nine three-minute bouts, with the aim of accumulating a maximum of 45 hits to win the match. Hits are recorded electronically using wireless technology.
HISTORY: At the first modern Olympics in 1896, the fencing program consisted of men’s foil and sabre events, with epee making its debut at Paris 1900. Women’s foil first featured at the Paris 1924 Games, with epee and sabre added in 1996 and 2004.
COMPETITION DATES: Saturday–Aug. 5
– Source: london2012.com
LOCAL ATHLETE: Danny Sternfeld, 16, Blacksburg
EXPERIENCE: Sternfeld has four years of fencing experience. He currently fences with the Virginia Tech fencing club.
Q: What do you like most about fencing?
A: It’s completely different from all the other sports. It’s a complete one-on-one sport, and it takes a completely type of mentality and focus. Fencing’s a lot more of a mind game than anything else. It’s kind of like chess on your feet, except you only have two queens.
Q: What advice would you give to an Olympic fencer?
A: Watch the feet. If somebody’s fencing with their feet too close together, they’re pretty much done because they can’t react fast. You can tell a lot about a fencer by their feet. You need to bend your knees. … If you’re standing up too much you don’t really have much [ability to] change your direction, if you’re too low down you don’t really have room to lunge. Fencing, it’s all in footwork. It’s all in the feet.
Q: What should viewers look for during the event?
A: It’s a lot more than just hit the person. … It’s so much more than just attacking someone with a sword. … It’s a lot more of a mind game. If you have an aggressive posture … they’re going to expect you to attack all the time, and they’ll go with a defensive posture and they’ll hit you every time. If you go with a defensive posture they’re going to realize that you aren’t going to be attacking them too much and they’re just going to hit you over and over until they finally get through. So, you kind of have to have a neutral [stance].
With epee [a type of fencing] and foil you can cross your feet when moving both backwards and forwards, in fact with epee you can literally do whatever you want. … With sabre you can only cross your legs moving backwards on a retreat.
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