Fencing captivates the audience with a science-fiction atmosphere

Technological progress makes the audience marvel at one of the Games’ most traditional sports, even comparing it to Star Wars movies

Present since the first edition of the Olympic Games, fencing is one of the competition’s most traditional sports. At the same time, it is also the modality which has evolved exponentially with time and the advent of technology. In its three modalities – épée, sabre and foil – contact with the opponent’s body is registered by sensors that turn lights on and make sounds, granting a science-fiction movie aura to the duels that take place at the equally futuristic Arena Carioca 3.

Indeed this atmosphere was an attraction by itself to the curious ones who mixed with fans of the sport at the bleachers. The Galvão family, for example, came because of Celia, a former practiser of the sport. Fernanda, who brought on her shoulder her daughter Maria Luisa, and her brother Alexandre didn’t quite know what to expect. But they didn’t hide their marvelling at a dynamic sport which is different from what they are used to.

“It really is quite fun. The costumes, the lights, the sword… they do bring a movie atmosphere to it. Malu can’t stop smiling. She is very happy”, said Fernanda.

Celia recalled the time in which she learned the fencing movements. The technological progress left her very surprised, but also hopeful that it will bring more practisers to the sport she admires so much. “The arena is beautiful, and fencing now has become attractive to watch. I hope we have new fencing athletes”, she affirmed.

Outside, a tent was set up where the public could have a taste of what it is to be a fencing athlete for a few minutes. The duels were fought with plastic swords, but with uniforms similar to the ones used by professionals. Russians Andrei Bykov and Olesya Bezhina entered the mood and performed a tight duel which ended with Olesya’s victory. After the fun, the Russian said she didn’t expect to have so much fun watching a fencing duel. Of course, her imagination helped.

“It’s quite fun. It’s as if I was in a Star Wars spaceship. If the athletes’ uniforms were black and the sabres had a red light, I would take it for a duel between Darth Vader and a Jedi (laughs)”, she said.

Indeed, the sport’s progressing attracted a bigger audience. Proof of that were the crowd’s reactions during competitions. Even when there were no Brazilians competing, some members of the audience got overly excited, forcing the organizers to ask for silence.

An athlete from the Italian delegation, which has the biggest number of victories in the history of the Games, Irene Vechhi believes everything is valid to bring her sport under the spotlights. “Really, the sport became more dynamic and more attractive for the audience which isn’t specialized in fencing. And all of that is valid. We always want to have supporters”, she said.

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