Fencing, or Women’s Team Foil Fencing, at the Olympics

Fencing is what my dad and I got to go see, when I finally got my tickets to attend a game at the Olympics. The big bonus to Fencing tickets is that we attended a whole day of games. At 9:00 we started with a qualifying game between TeamGB and Egypt. While Egypt started out well, I was one of about 5 people in the audience cheering for them, and GB quickly pulled ahead. Then things got a bit more interesting, as there were four matches going on at once during the next round! Eight countries, eight teams, competing. Team fencing doesn’t mean a free-for-all of women facing each other with blades; rather, three women from one country go up against each of three women from another country, for 3 minutes each, and their scores are totalled.

Out of the nine teams competing, my first choice was Egypt, and if Egypt was going to lose, I wanted to cheer for Team GB, the USA, or Poland. They were all disqualified in the second round. I sure do choose winners, don’t I?

Well, turns out the Italian women are in a class all of their own. There was absolutely no comparison as they sliced down (figuratively, of course), all of their opponents. Whack, whack, whack, and done! They were graceful and artistic and full of stereotypically Italian fervour. They were particularly fun to watch.

So, I knew next-to-nothing about fencing before attending this game, and I still don’t know much, but I learned a few things:The Italian fans also deserved the victory.

1. They use fancy-shmancy machines now! A tap on someone else’s hit-able vest makes a beep and lights go off. In only one of the types of fencing (but not Foil, which we were watching) can both teams score at the same time, even though they often hit at the same time. The ref must decide.

2. The sword (foils?) are bendy.

3. There are red cards and yellow cards in Fencing! Neither disqualifies a player, though, as they also have… Black cards!

4. There’s some kind of sign language in Fencing, though I didn’t get it at all.

5. You get a black card if you fail to greet your opponent at the end of the match. Friendliness is important.

I liked fencing. It was fast and it was interesting, and it became more interesting as I caught on more and more. I could have done without so much beeping and lights flashing, though.

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