9
Aug 08

Foiled again! etc etc

Do You See + FT + TMFD//3 comments • 261 views

Unlike, say, sailing, fencing is a naturally telegenic sport. Violent and shrouded in darkness with dramatically spot-lit little runways for the fencers to jab at each other, each point of a bout will take up at most a few seconds of one’s precious, attention-deficit-addled time. In fact, bouts at this highest of levels are like that old nature film of the grizzly bear swiping salmon from a stream – the crucial action simply takes place faster than a human can see it. Like chess players, fencers are always several moves ahead of what’s actually happening. But with the camera and playback technology available today, every bind, circle-parry and change of engagement can be slowed down, isolated, remarked upon and put into the context of the bout. And like the other combat sports, fencing requires ingenuity, creativity and grace yet thankfully doesn’t depend on a judge somewhere. You either hit somebody or you don’t.

But head over to the BBC page for television coverage of the Olympics and try viewing the listings for fencing. Strange, no? It hasn’t – like baseball – been voted out (baseball will make its last Olympics appearance in Beijing this year). It’s just not being shown by the BBC.

Back in June, when the BBC’s coverage was being hammered out once and for all, there was only one Briton expected to compete in any fencing event. That was Alex O’Connell, who’s handy with a sabre – one of the three swords in fencing along with epée (thinner) and foil (the thinnest). Since then, in a mysterious ruffling of cloaks, the sport’s international governing body has decreed that Finchley’s Richard Kruse – a foil man – and Martina Emanuel – also foil – will get to stab a little in Beijing.

Fencing isn’t one of those Olympic sports where you’re washed up by the time you’re university age. At 22, Emanuel is a little green for a fencer – she’s mainly trying to get experience for 2012. (She also trains, lives, and was born in Italy. Hmm. British mum, apparently.) But there are high hopes for 24-year-old Kruse, who some say is Britain’s best shot at the country’s first fencing medal since 1964.

Today, American Mariel Zagunis took the gold in women’s sabre. (Americans won bronze and silver, too). Zagunis thus repeats as gold medalist. She won in 2004 – the first gold for an American fencer in 100 years – after a last-minute reshuffle allowed her to join her compatriots in Athens. So there’s hope for Richard Kruse yet. It’s just too bad his friends won’t get to tune in. Especially after he took the time to present this “fencing for beginners” guide for… BBC Sport.

Comments

  1. 1
    Tracer Hand on 9 Aug 2008 #

    Those with a PC and Internet Explorer may want to try http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/olympics and do a search for “fencing”. Women’s sabre is there, but only a selection of bouts up to the quarterfinals – and sadly, very little slow-mo, and absolutely no commentary.

  2. 2
    badger on 9 Aug 2008 #

    Amen! I was cursing NBC this morning for long stretches of bicycling and rowing, only to cut to a medal ceremony with a weeping athlete, the American national anthem, and flags. It was announced that U.S.A. is number one, two, and three in women’s sabre fencing… Not a single clip of the competition was shown.

    Then coverage focused on staring at the asses of the women’s volleyball team.

  3. 3

    […] sabre fencing this morning. Not a single clip of the competition was shown. It was weird to see a post on the lack of BBC coverage of fencing on Freaky Trigger just now, at the same time i was trying to pull something up on Bittorrent. Even though it’s […]

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