How Fencers Qualify For The Beijing Olympic Games

The Olympics are in​ Beijing in​ 2008,​ how are the​ teams chosen for the​ fencing competition?

The mandated levels of​ athlete participation has led to​ changes in​ the​ selection process for the​ Games. Each nation is​ no longer guaranteed an​ athlete in​ each sport - now nations and athletes have to​ compete against not only their countrymen,​ but against others in​ their region or​ continent for an​ Olympic slot.

In the​ 2004 Olympic Games all of​ the​ men's events (epee,​ foil,​ and saber) were included,​ but two of​ the​ three women's events did not hold the​ team competition.

The international fencing federation (FIE) rotates the​ events which will sit out the​ team portion of​ the​ Olympics,​ and for the​ 2008 Olympic Fencing competition,​ Men's Foil and Women's Epee will only hold an​ individual tournament.

Who gets to​ go?

Athletes are competing for slots based on​ their nation's standing in​ the​ world (for team events) and based on​ individual world rankings (for the​ individual events.) Here's a​ breakdown of​ what it​ will take for an​ aspiring swordsman (or swordswoman) to​ get a​ ticket to​ Beijing:

Weapons with Team Events (Men's Epee,​ Men's Sabre,​ Women's Foil,​ Women's Sabre):

Team Events are comprised of​ teams of​ 3 fencers with 1 alternate. a​ total of​ 8 teams can compete in​ each team event (9 if​ China fails to​ qualify a​ team directly).

The top 4 teams in​ the​ world standings will qualify directly to​ the​ Olympics. the​ remaining 4 teams are chosen based on​ regional qualification. the​ top team from each region (Americas,​ Asia,​ Europe,​ Africa) that is​ not already qualified will earn a​ regional berth.

The individual event is​ a​ tournament with a​ field of​ 39 fencers. For the​ individual competition,​ the​ 24 fencers that competed in​ the​ team event qualify. After the​ first 24 fencers are chosen,​ the​ top 3 in​ the​ World standings qualify,​ with only one fencer from any one country. the​ next 7 are pulled from the​ Olympic zones as​ the​ top 2 from Europe,​ 2 from Asia,​ 2 from the​ Americas,​ and 1 from Africa,​ again with only 1 fencer from a​ country. the​ remaining 5 slots are determined by a​ continental qualifying competition with 2 from Europe and 1 from each of​ the​ remaining regions.

What about Men's Foil and Women's Epee?

A different set of​ criteria is​ used to​ pick the​ 24 fencers who will compete in​ the​ Men's Foil and Women's Epee events. Because there is​ no team event,​ each individual will have to​ qualify on​ their own merit and not on​ the​ ranking of​ their national team. the​ following formula is​ used to​ pick the​ 24 individual entries:

The top 8 in​ the​ World rankings get their tickets punched (but only 2 can go from the​ same country from this set.) After the​ first 8 are chosen,​ the​ next 8 in​ are picked by region based on​ adjusted world rankings. (There are 3 slots for Europe,​ 2 for Asia,​ 2 for the​ Americas,​ and 1 for Africa.) the​ last 8 qualify based on​ continental competitions where countries that haven't qualified any fencers on​ the​ first 2 rounds. in​ the​ last round,​ the​ allocation of​ slots remains at​ 3 Europe,​ 2 Asia and Americas,​ and 1 for Africa.

Outlook for the​ United States

Will the​ US earn a​ medal in​ 2008?

The United States earned Bronze and Gold medals in​ Women's sabre in​ 2004. Sada Jacobson and Mariel Zagunis are still at​ the​ top of​ the​ world rankings and are joined by young fencing phenom Becca Ward,​ who last year won the​ individual world championship title at​ the​ Cadet,​ Junior,​ and Senior levels of​ competition. the​ US is​ favored to​ medal in​ Women's Sabre.

In the​ other weapons,​ the​ best hopes are with Men's Sabre as​ the​ individual team members are posting good results for the​ season.

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