2019 Fencing World Championships: Everything you need to know

Your complete guide to the 2019 Fencing Worlds in Budapest which doubles as an Olympic qualification tournament for Tokyo 2020.

By Ken Browne

Budapest in Hungary will host the 81st edition of the FIE Fencing World Championships 2019 from 15th July to the 23rd.

With 2,000 fencers from 130 countries facing off over nine days of competition, World champions will be crowned and Olympic tickets to Tokyo 2020 punched.

This tournament doubles up as an Olympic qualification tournament.

“The stakes are high, it’s no exaggeration to say that the road to Tokyo goes through Budapest”

- Hungarian Fencing Federation President Zsolt Csampa

The world's finest fencers will take to the piste across three different disciplines in both individual and team events at the BOK Hall in Budapest.

The stage is set for a special 'kind of magic'.

"BOK" refers to "Budapest Olympic Center" and it is the same venue where the 2013 Fencing World Championships were held.

The tournament is right at home in Hungary's capital city, which has already hosted the competition in 1959, 1975, 1991 and 2013, making 2019 the fifth occasion it has been held here.

Who to watch

The stars of fencing will align in the Hungarian capital, showcasing the very best of the sport they call "a game of chess at the speed of light."

Italy dominated the last edition in Wixu, China: Mara Navarria, Alice Volpi and Alessio Foconi will defend their titles as World No.1 in the Budapest "BOK" Arena.

Expect Rio 2016 team gold medallist Yannick Borel, Venezuelan hero Ruben Limardo, and Romania's Oympic champ Ana Maria Popescu to keep it lit in Budapest.

Local favourites will include Hungarian national team World and European sabre champions Andras Szatmari and Tamas Decsi:

“Being third-seeds in the world and runners-up in the Budapest World Cup is a good sign. Since in our sport there are more qualification opportunities if the team itself qualifies, this is where we’ll be placing the greatest emphasis," said Szatmari before the tournament.

All the competitors will be out to make their point with world titles and qualification for Tokyo 2020 the target:

Olympic qualification will come down to the FIE official rankings as of April 2020, and this event is a chance to earn crucial points in order to secure a spot at next year's Olympics.


All eyes will be trained on Rio 2016 team gold medallist Yannick Borel: the French sensation and reigning world champ.

Will he be able to repeat success in Budapest despite an injury-hit season?

Japan's Kazuyasu Minobe might see this as his best shot yet at a first world title.

After finishing second in Budapest 2013 and Wuxi 2018, Ruben Limardo is working hard on some fencing alchemy that'll turn silver to gold.

The Venezuelan has a great story, and became only the third Olympic gold medallist from the Latin American country at London 2012.

FIE ranking MEN:

  1. Kazuyasu Minobe (JPN)
  2. Yannick Borel (FRA)
  3. Ruben Limardo Gascon (VEN)

FIE ranking WOMEN:

  1. Mara Navarria (ITA)
  2. Ana Maria Popescu (ROM)
  3. Man Wai Vivian Kong (HKG)

Look out for Hungary's charge in the men's epée too, local hero Andras Redli is convinced that they can bring delight to the expected 10,000 spectators in the BOK:

“I believe that our men’s epée team is in the running for the gold medal in front of the local supporters, and I am sure that we will be present in the Olympics in Tokyo.”

– Olympic bronze medalist Andras Redli.

Olympic champion Ana Maria Popescu will be one of the most experienced fencers on show aged 34, the Romanian clinched the silver medal in last year's event.

She was beaten by world No. 1 Mara Navarria, and will be out for revenge this time around.

Team USA has two sisters in the mix, Courtney and Kelley Hurley, both Olympic bronze medallists and contenders to watch for.

EPEE Explained: Rules and blades

The epee has a total length of 110cm and its blade is 90cm long. The total weight of the weapon must be less than 770g. The eppe is a thrusting weapon only and the epee attack is with the point of the weapon only.

In epee, the target area is the entire area, head to toe, including any clothing and equipment. Unlike in sabre and foil, in epee there are no right of way rules regarding attacks.

Any hit landed is counted.

Touches areas warded solely on the basis of which fencer makes a touch first, according to an electrical recording apparatus. Also, double-touches, are allowed in epee, although the touches must occur within 40 millisecond (1/40 of a second) of each other.


Italian fencers are dominating the ranking in foil: Alice Volpi and Alessio Foconi come to Budapest as world No.1 and reigning world champs.

But Volpi might meet some fierce resistance from her main rival in world No. 2 Inna Deriglazova.

The Russian Rio 2016 individual champ has won an incredible six out of eight international competitions this season, including the European championships in Dusseldorf last month.

USA's fencing star Race Imboden is a male model and potential Benedict Cumberbatch body double off the piste, but when he's on it he's very focused on winning.

Imboden has already defeated Foconi twice this season and the 26-year-old will be aiming at his first individual world title in Budapest.

FIE ranking MEN:

  1. Alessio Foconi (ITA)
  2. Race Imboden (USA)
  3. Daniele Garozzo (ITA)

FIE ranking WOMAN:

  1. Alice Volpi (ITA)
  2. Inna Deriglazova (RUS)
  3. Ysaora Thibus (FRA)

FOIL Explained: Rules and blades

The epee has a total length of 110cm and its blade is 90cm long. The total weight of the weapon must be less than 500g.

As in epee, the foil is a thrusting weapon only. Fencers can only score a hit by striking the point of their weapon on the defined target area of their opponent which is limited to the torso only. Non-valid hits also stop the bout, but are not counted.

Foil is governed by the rules of right of way. The fencer who starts an attack has the right of way. In order to avoid being hit, the opposing foil fencer usually attempts to parry the attack and, if this is successful, riposte.

To avoid being parried, the attacker may use several tactics, such as disengages or coupes, which are different ways to avoid the opponents' blade.


Sofia Pozdniakova, daughter of one of the most famous fencers of all time, Stanislav Pozdniakov (4-time Olympic champ), is the reigning world champ.

The 22-year-old took her first career World Cup victory in Athens in March, and won the individual sabre Worlds in Wuxi, China in 2018.

Her teammate Sofya Velikaya, a Rio silver medallist and one of the most-decorated fencers of all time, won three times this year and is coming as world No.1.

In the men's event, two-time Olympic champ Aron Szilagy is the home-favourite to clinch the title.

While Germany's Max Hartung of Germany, is having the best season of his career and is in the hunt for his first individual world title.

FIE ranking MEN:

  1. Eli Dershwitz (USA)
  2. Oh Sanguk (KOR)
  3. Max Hartung (GER)

FIE ranking WOMAN:

  1. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
  2. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
  3. Sofia Pozdniakova (RUS)

Prodigal son

Andras Szatmari is out to prove that his 'prodigy' label won't become a sad story of unfulfilled promise.

At 20 years old Szatmari was one of the greatest surprises of the 2013 World Championships in Budapest.

The Hungarian sabre fencer made his debut in the seniors in Budapest, and made the final 8 in the individual event.

He was only one point short of beating Russian Nikolay Kovalev - a 4-time world champion and London 2012 bronze medallist - in the quarter-finals.

“I had a bitter feeling in the end," Szatmari said in May, "people called me the next Aron Szilagyi, stating as a fact that I will win the next Olympic Games in Rio."

" I started to ride the high horse and my results in the coming years did not turn out to be as great as I hoped. I believe that I learned the lesson and I became more humble. Thanks to this I could win the World Championships in individual in 2017.”

Now 26, older and wiser, the Hungarian prodigal son is out to prove his Olympic credentials in front of a home crowd who, should he win, may not listen as closely to what's said about him ahead of Tokyo 2020.

SABRE Explained: Rules and blades

The sabre has a total length of 105cm and its blade is 88cm long. The total weight of the weapon must be less than 500g.

The sabre's basic difference from the two other weapons is that a hit can be made with the cutting edge and not only with the point. The target area consists of everything above the waist, including the head and both arms.

As with foil, sabre is governed by rules of right of way. In order to avoid being hit, the opposing sabre fencer, usually attempts to parry the attack and, if this is successful, riposte.

To avoid being parried, the attacker may use several tactics, such as disengages or coupes, which are different ways to avoid the opponents' blade.

2019 Fencing World Championships Schedule


Day 1

Monday 15 July

9am Women’s epée individual, preliminaries
1pm Men’s sabre individual, preliminaries


Day 2

Tuesday 16 July

9am Women’s foil individual, preliminaries

1pm Men’s epée individual, preliminaries


Day 3

Wednesday 17 July

9am Men’s foil individual, preliminaries

2pm Women’s sabre individual, preliminaries


Day 4

Thursday 18 July

8:30am Women’s epée individual, T64

10am Men’s sabre individual, T64

6pm Opening ceremony

6:40pm Finals, T4


Day 5

Friday 19 July

8:30am Men’s epée individual, T64

10am Men’s sabre individual, T64

6:30pm Finals, T4


Day 6

Saturday 20 July

8:30am Women’s sabre individual, T64

9:40am Men’s foil individual, T64

9:40am Women’s epée team, preliminaries

10:40am Men’s sabre team, preliminaries

6pm Individual finals, T4


Day 7

Sunday 21 July

8:30am Men’s epée and Women’s foil team preliminaries

10am Women’s epée team, 1-8. places

10:50am Men’s sabre team, 1-8. places

4pm Women’s epée team and Men’s sabre team
bronze and gold medal matches


Day 8

Monday 22 July

8:30am Women’s foil team, 1-8. places

9:40am Men’s epée team, 1-8 places

9:40am Men’s foil team, preliminaries

11.15am Women’s sabre team, preliminaries

4pm Women’s foil team and Men’s epée team
bronze and gold medal matches


Day 9

Tuesday 23 July

10:30am Women’s sabre team, 1-8. places

11:20am Men’s foil team, 1-8. places

4pm Women’s sabre team and Men’s foil team
bronze and gold medal matches

6:30pm Closing ceremony



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