Pan American Games in Toronto – Fencing in the Americas

The 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada featured six days of fencing with a full complement of 12 individual and team events for men and women from throughout the Americas. The Pan Am games, a quadrennial event like the Olympics, includes 41 participating countries and 36 sports with more than 6,000 athletes competing. This is the largest multi-sport event ever hosted in Canada, including being bigger than the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

As in the last Pan Am Games, held in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011, the USA has dominated fencing overall, winning 14 medals including nine gold, three silver, and two bronze. Following with six medals is Venezuela (including two gold), Canada with six medals (including one gold), and Brazil with five medals. Other countries earning medals in fencing included Argentina (four), Mexico (four), Colombia (one), Dominican Republic (one), and Cuba (one). For the full medal count, see here, where all results can be found for the Pan Am Games.

While fewer than the overall participation by 41 countries, fencing nonetheless included 17 countries including U.S. Virgin Islands, Panama, Guatemala, and Peru. A number of well-known world-level fencers, such as Mariel Zagunis (USA), Nathalie Moellhausen (BRA), Alexander Massialas (USA), and Ruben Limardo-Gascon (VEN) all competed in individual and team events, giving the events a powerful lineup of athletes all preparing for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games. In addition, the Pan Am Games give fencers with lower world rankings the opportunity to compete in a world-class setting against Olympians and world champions.

Venezuela gave top-ranked USA the most difficult challenges of the week, winning two gold medals and overcoming the Americans in men’s team and individual epee. Reigning Olympic champion Limardo, even with an injured knee, managed to tout his strength and prowess on the piste with some of the same flair and confidence seen in London 2012. As for sabre and foil, the USA “A” teams dominated the events overall although strong showing in foil and men’s sabre from Canada and women’s sabre from Mexico all gave the week some excellent competition—including a surprise upset on the last night with the Canadian women’s foil team beating the USA in priority to win gold in women’s team foil.

Held in the “PAC” or Pan America Aquatic Center, fencing was crowded with spectators who, not surprisingly, were overwhelmingly cheering-on home-country Canadian fencers and teams. The beautiful, brand-new venue offered excellent viewing of all five pistes for pools, eliminations, finals, and medals, along with fencing explanations and demonstrations by the Canadian organizers to help audiences get-to-know the sport and enjoy the competitions all the more.

An excellent lead-in to the Olympic Games, the American continents are clearly excited about the upcoming 2016 Summer Games. Always a very strong event with broad participation, the Pan Am Games delivered excellent athletics overall – and fencing specifically – in a manner steeped in historical tradition since its inception as a major world event in 1937. 

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