What we learned: Fencing wrap-up from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

CHIBA, JAPAN - JULY 28: Aron Szilagyi of Team Hungary celebrates after defeating Team Germany during the Men's Sabre Team Bronze Medal Match on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 28, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
CHIBA, JAPAN - JULY 28: Aron Szilagyi of Team Hungary celebrates after defeating Team Germany during the Men's Sabre Team Bronze Medal Match on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on July 28, 2021 in Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

From Áron Szilágyi's threepeat to Lee Kiefer's maiden gold for USA, fencing lit up the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Take a look at the top moments, get highlights, replays, and what to look forward to at Paris 2024.

Fencing has been an Olympic fixture since the very first modern Games in 1896, and it wowed once more at Tokyo 2020.

We saw over 200 elite fencers from 42 NOCs conjure a spectacle of swordsmanship. Tokyo 2020 featured 12 events with thirteen nations sharing the spoils across three continents.

Traditional powerhouses France and Hungary impressed, as did Korea and the ROC had a stellar Games.

But there were plenty of firsts, shocks and surprises in Tokyo: Names like Lee Kiefer , CHEUNG Ka Long , and Katrina Lehis along with the Japan men's épée team helped rewrite Olympic history.

The old guard was en garde too, Hungary's Áron Szilágyi completing a stunning Olympic gold-medal trilogy.

It was the first time in Olympic history that a full set of 12 fencing gold-medal competitions took place, including six individual and six team events in épée, foil and sabre for both men and women.

Read on for fencing's Top 5 moments at Tokyo 2020, where you can get highlights and replays free and on-demand, and take a look ahead at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Top 5 fencing moments from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

1. Peerless Áron Szilágyi's three-peat was fencing at its best

Gold at London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 too, take a bow Áron Szilágyi .

His individual sabre title made him the first man to win three Olympic golds in an individual fencing discipline, and he did it in style too.

The 31-year-old never looked in doubt at the Makuhari Messe B Hall where he dominated Mojtaba Abedini of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the semifinals 15-7 before a swashbuckling victory over Luigi Samele in the final by the same score.

Afterwards he said: "I am extremely happy to receive the third gold medal. One of my first thoughts after I won was 'I can't believe it', it was like a dream.

"I think I will need a couple of weeks or couple or months to believe what I did. It is very hard to achieve."

2. Another historic first for Lee Kiefer and USA

Szilágyi wasn't the only one making history in the Japanese capital.

USA fencer Lee Kiefer claimed her and Team USA's first ever individual fencing medal in foil by defeating the reigning Olympic champion representing ROC, Inna Deriglazova .

Kiefer ripped off her mask screaming "Oh my God," after coming out on top of a tight contest to win 15-13. This was the 27-year-old's third Games but her first medal, and it was gold.

There was double joy at home too as Kiefer and her husband Gerek Meinhardt both ended up on an Olympic podium, Meinhardt was part of the U.S. men's foil team that took bronze in Tokyo.

3. Fencing joy for Japan

The hosts had a little history of their own to make in fencing.

Japan earned its first-ever Olympic fencing gold medal winning men’s team épée , the first Asian nation to do so.

KANO Koki, MINOBE Kazuyasa, YAMADA Masaru and UYAMA Satoru got the better of the heavily fancied ROC in the final winning 45-36.

Earlier in the day the Japanese quartet had upset powerhouse France in the quarter-finals before defeating Republic of Korea a loss in the semis to face the ROC for gold.

It was tight and tense but Kano sealed the victory in the final bout defeating World No.2 Sergey Bida 8-3 to spark wild scenes of celebration at the Makuhari Messe.

"We were five or six points ahead and that's when we thought we could go for it," Kano laughed in disbelief.

"In the fencing world in Japan, this will have significance [winning a gold medal] in the sense of promoting the discipline and hopefully there will be more recognition of this discipline across the country," Minobe said.

4. Katrina Lehis and women's épée team puts Estonia on the fencing map

We may see a few more Estonian fencers at the Paris Olympics after two giant victories are sure to inspire.

First Katrina Lehis won Estonia's first-ever individual Olympic fencing medal, a bronze in individual women’s épée, then she helped lead the women’s épée team to their first-ever Olympic fencing gold.

It was Estonia’s first Olympic gold medal in 13 years, and the first since Beijing 2008.

Katrina Lehis, Julia Beljajeva, Erika Kirpu and Irina Embrich claimed women’s épée team gold in a 36-32 win over the Republic of Korea at Makuhari Messe, and the emotions flowed.

2021 Getty Images

5. France and fencing: A never-ending love affair

The more things change, the more they stay the same as despite all the upstarts and newcomers, traditional powerhouse France once again stamped their class on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

France won an unprecedented eighth gold medal in men's team foil led by current individual world champ Enzo Lefort.

They have now won this event more than any other nation in the history of the Games.

Elsewhere Romain Cannone topped the podium in individual épée, there were silver medals in women's team foil and team sabre, and Manon Brunet took home bronze in the individual sabre.

France and fencing is a love story that doesn't end, and they're ready to write another belle chapter at Paris 2024.

Highlights

The highlights and replays of the Tokyo 2020 fencing events are available here on demand: olympics.com/tokyo2020-replays

One last look

ROC, France, and South Korea were on fire in Tokyo but aside from old flames there were plenty of new sparks.

Hong Kong China’s Chueng Ka Long lit it up in the individual men's foil, winning his nation's first ever fencing Olympic gold medal, and only their second gold in any discipline.

The 24-year-old Cheung took out defending champion and highly favoured Italian Daniele Garozzo by a 15-10 score in the final.

"I told myself, 'I am nothing against him, he is the Olympic champion'. I just kept fighting until the end,” said Cheung.

"It is like a dream. For me yesterday I was thinking about the first match only. The most important thing about the games is the first match.”

It's Hong Kong China's first Olympic gold medal since Lee Lai Shan won the women's windsurfing competition in Atlanta 1996.

Hello Paris

In another first at a Games firsts, India's Bhavani Chadalavada Anandha Sundh made her debut in women’s sabre, the country's first fencer in history at the Olympic Games.

As the sport grows in popularity around the world expect Paris to celebrate another bouquet of history-makers and record-breakers.

France will hope to close in on Italy as the most successful nation in Olympic history at their home Games, while the Italians will feel right at home in Paris.

With five medal-winning performances each at Tokyo 2020, France will feel they had the better of it by winning two gold medals but the tally stands at 130-123 in favour of the Italians right now.

Beyond the big two and ROC and South Korea, there are plenty of newcomers and upstarts out to upset the world order and prove they're here to stay.

As Japanese fencer Yamada put it after Japan won their first gold:

"Winning gold in the Olympics, I don't want people to say it was just by chance. We want to win another gold medal in the next competition and also want more people to know about fencing."

Tokyo 2020 fencing medal-winners list

Women

Épée individual

Gold: SUN Yiwen (CHN)

Silver: Ana Maria Popescu (ROU)

Bronze: Katrina Lehis (EST)

Épée team

Gold: Katrina Lehis, Julia Beljajeva, Erika Kirpu and Irina Embrich (EST)

Silver: CHOI Injeong, KANG Youngmi, LEE Hyein, SONG Sera (KOR)

Bronze: Rossella Fiamingo, Federica Isola, Mara Navarria, Alberta Santuccio (ITA)

Foil individual

Gold: Lee Kiefer (USA)

Silver: Inna Derglazova (ROC)

Bronze: Larisa Korobeynikova (ROC)

Foil team

Gold: Inna Derglazova, Larisa Korobeynikova, Marta Martyanova, Adelina Zagidullina (ROC)

Silver: Anita Blaze, Astrid Guyart, Pauline Ranvier, Ysaora Thibus (FRA)

Bronze: Martina Batini, Erica Cipressa, Arianna Errigo, Alice Volpi (ITA)

Sabre individual

Gold: Sofia Pozdniakova (ROC)

Silver: Sofya Velikaya (ROC)

Bronze: Manon Brunuet (FRA)

Sabre team

Gold: Olga Nikitina, Sofia Pozdniakova, Sofya Velikaya (ROC)

Silver: Sara Balzer, Cécilia Berder, Manon Brunet, Charlotte Lembach (FRA)

Bronze: KIM Jiyeon, YOON Jisu, SEO Jiyeon, CHOI Sooyeon (KOR)

Men

Épée individual

Gold: Romain Cannone (FRA)

Silver: Gergely Siklósi (HUN)

Bronze: Ihor Reizlin (UKR)

Épée team

Gold: KANO Koki, MINOBE Kazuyasa, YAMADA Masaru and UYAMA Satoru (JPN)

Silver: Sergey Bida, Sergey Khodos, Pavel Sukhov, Nikita Glazkov (ROC)

Bronze: PARK Sangyoung, MA Segeon, SONG Jaeho, KWEON Youngjun (KOR)

Foil individual

Gold: CHEUNG Kalong (HKG)

Silver: Daniele Garozzo (ITA)

Bronze: Alexander Choupenitch (CZE)

Foil team

Gold: Enzo Lefort, Erwann Le Péchoux, Julien Mertine, Maxime Pauty (FRA)

Silver: Anton Borodachev, Kirill Borodachev, Vladislav Mylnikov, Timur Safin

Bronze: Race Imboden, Nick Itkin, Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt

Sabre individual

Gold: Áron Szilágyi (HUN)

Silver: Luigi Samele (ITA)

Bronze: KIM Junghwan (KOR)

Sabre team

Gold: OH Sanguk, Kim Junho, Kim Junghwan, Gu Bongil (KOR)

Silver: Luca Curatoli, Luigi Samele, Enrico Berrè, Aldo Montano (ITA)

Bronze: Áron Szilágyi, András Szatmári, Tamás Decsi, Csanád Gémesi (HUN)