Top 10 Greatest Female Fencers Of All Times | FIE Ranking
July 28, 2021 By Sourav
At the 2016 Olympics, women make up just over 45% of the athletes compared to less than 2% at the 1908 games. Women's access to local, as well as Olympic level sports is having a significant impact on that. Fencing is not immune to gender inequalities. In 1924, women fenced for the first time in foil at the Olympics. 1996 marked the first time that women's epee has been at the Olympics. In 2004, the French international federation included women's sabre in the Olympic program. But it had to drop two team events to do so. Here we list the greatest female fencers of all time who earned a lot of respect because of their exceptional performances.
Greatest Female Fencers | All-Time FIE Ranking
10. Timea Nagy – Hungary
9. Anja Fichtel – West Germany
8. Cornelia Hanisch – West Germany
7. Ilona Elek – Hungary
6. Giovanna Trillini – Italy
5. Inna Deriglazova – Russia
4. Ellen Preis – Austria
3. Olha Kharlan – Ukraine
2. Mariel Zagunis – USA
1. Valentina Vezzali – Italy
Although fencing is one of the least popular sports around the globe, it is among the richest sports of all time. And like their male counterparts, female fencers also have their legacies in Olympic and other international competitions. So, here are the greatest female fencers of all time.
10. Timea Nagy - Hungary
The Hungarian épée fencer Timea Nagy was born on 22 August 1970. She was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1996, 2000, and 2004; her teams came fourth and fifth in those games.
Her other winnings were world titles as an individual in 2006 and gold medals with the Hungarian teams in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999. In 2006, she was voted the most decorated sportswoman of the year in Hungary. Besides, she is also among the most followed female athletes on Instagram this year.
Nagy won many awards and honors during her career, making her one of the greatest female fencers of all time. Her exceptional fencing skills set an example for others to challenge their limits. She puts her opponents in difficult situations many times with her tricky gameplay.
Nagy won the Hungarian fencer of the Year three times in 2000, 2004, and 2006. She was also awarded the Hungarian Athlete of the Year by the National Sports Association (NSSZ) awards in 2006.
9. Anja Fichtel - West Germany
German fencer Anja Fichtel-Mauritz was born on 17 August 1968. She won the individual and team competitions at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, as well as the individual matches at the 1986 and 1990 World Championships.
Dietmar Fischtel's top achievements include winning World Championships as a member of the German national team in 1985, 1989, and 1993, and placing second in the team competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics. Fichtel was crowned German champion from 1986 until 1996.
Moreover, aside from her numerous victories, Friedrich is remembered for her fierce and uncompromising fencing style making her one of the greatest female fencers ever.
The "Russian Cup recognized her achievement in foil fencing," an international competition for women in Moscow, where the highest award was presented to the foil fencer who did not lose a single bout.
8. Cornelia Hanisch - West Germany
Hanisch was a world champion foil fencer in 1979, 1981, and 1985 for West Germany. During the World Championships, she won four gold medals, three silver medals, and three bronze medals. During her heydays, she was the subject of many great films about female athletes to watch for.
Silver was her individual award at Los Angeles in 1984, while gold was her team award. Hanisch finished fifth individually and forth with her team eight years earlier.
The highest sports honor in Germany was presented to her in 1985: Sportswoman of the Year. In 2016, she was inducted into the German Sports Hall of Fame. West Germany's champion, Hanisch, won the national titles in 1976, 1978-80, and 1982.
During her time at Offenbach, she taught high school German, economics, and mathematics. Furthermore, she belonged to the German National Olympic Committee. Hanisch is known as one of the greatest female fencers of all time because of her outstanding achievements.
7. Ilona Elek - Hungary
Elek beat Helene Mayer of Germany 5-4 and Ellen Preis of Austria 5-3 to win the gold medal on the last day of the championships. Due to war, the following two editions of the Games had to be canceled.
Despite this, Elek was one of just two 1936 champions to successfully defend their titles when the Olympic Games returned to London in 1948. Elek is known as one of the greatest ever because of her legacy. She still remains one of the most successful athletes in the Olympic games.
Despite a 12-year hiatus, the resumption of the organization was a tremendous accomplishment in itself. But her manner of winning made the whole thing even more dramatic. After being trailing 2-0, she scored four straight hits to beat Maria Cerra of the United States.
Her win resulted in a 4-2 victory over Karen Lachmann of Denmark, giving her the gold medal. In the same event, Margit, Elek's sister, finished sixth.
6. Giovanna Trillini - Italy
Giovanna first learned how to fence at the Scherma club of Jesi in the province of Le Marche when she was seven years old. A strong fan of the sport, Ezio Triccoli led the young Italian to specialize in foil and soon develop a taste for it.
In the semi-final to Margherita Granbassi, Trillini lost 15-8 and won the bronze medal. She is known as one of the greatest female fencers because of her significant accomplishments in her career.
On a different note, she is also among the hottest Olympic athletes in the history of this competition. When she was 16 years old, she competed in the 15-17-year-old World Championships in 1986 and won the silver medal.
Giovanna Trillini, with eight golds, is the most successful female fencer in the history of the Olympic Games, ahead of her teammates Valentina Vezzali of Italy and Ildiko Rejto-Ujlaki of Hungary. Additionally, she also won nine world championships in foil, her favorite discipline.
5. Inna Deriglazova - Russia
Defending champion in two different European team competitions, two times in individual competitions, Deriglazova was born on 10 March 1990. Besides her impressive fencing talent, she is also among the fittest female athletes in the world right now.
Inna is an Olympic silver medalist, a three-time world champion on the women's team, a three-time individual world champion, a silver medalist on the women's team in 2012, and a gold medalist on the women's team 2016. Her fencing career began when she was 8 in her hometown of Kurchatov.
The cadet world championships in Taebaek in 2006 saw her win a bronze medal, and then two years later, her gold medal in the individual and team events in Novi Sad. A bronze medal was hers at the Junior World Championships in Prague that year.
During the 2008 Junior World Championships in Amsterdam, she became the champion. As a result of the national championship in Russia, she earned a silver medal. During the 2010 Junior World Championships in Baku, she won gold both individually and in the team competition.
4. Ellen Preis - Austria
Born to a mother from Germany and an Austrian father from Austria, Preis was born in Berlin. Her aunt Wilhelmine Werdnik, Germany's first fencing champion, taught her at the fencing school her aunt owned in Vienna at age 13. Due to her dual citizenship, she opted to represent Austria when Germany wasn't interested, despite Germany having several top fencers.
Her breakthrough came at the 1932 Olympics after winning bronze at the Europeans in 1931. In a fenced-off for the gold, she beat Judy Guinness (of the famed brewers' family) after tying in the final pool. A career full of success and achievements began here.
Ellen won a second gold at the Berlin Olympics, and she was even crowned German champion. During the period 1929-1957, she won 17 foil titles in Austria. She won three world titles after the war, making her the top fencer immediately after the war.
Despite her dominance, Ellen did not win a second Olympic title. Her placing in London was third behind Hungary's Ilona Elek. Ellen is known as one of the greatest female fencers because of her remarkable career.
3. Olha Kharlan - Ukraine
A sabre fencer from Ukraine, Kharlan was born on 4 September 1990. As well as her bronze medal from the 2016 Summer Olympics, she holds five other world and European titles (2013, 2014, 2017, and 2019).
Two times she won her respective world and European team championships (2009 and 2013). At the Ukrainian Heroes of Sports Years awards in 2009, Kharlan was named athlete of the year. Shortly after graduating, she began a political career.
Kharlan became a member of the Ukrainian national team when she was 14 years old. After losing to Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis in a semi-final at the 2005 Junior World Championships in Linz, she won her first medal in an international competition in 2007.
Furthermore, Kharlan is one of the best fencers in the world in 2021. Additionally, she took home a silver medal in the team competition. Even as a cadet, she made it to the quarterfinals of the 2005 European Fencing Championships in Zalaegerszeg.
2. Mariel Zagunis – USA
A professional sabre fencer, Zagunis was born on 3 March 1985. As the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in fencing, she is a two-time Olympic champion with the individual sabre (2004 and 2008).
Her role in the Parade of Nations was as a flag bearer for Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics. The five-time Olympian has won two bronze team medals (in 2008 and 2016) and two individual bronze medals (in 2004 and 2008).
Zagunis was the first American fencer to win the Jr World Cup title (2002), and she won the title three years in a row (2002, 2003, and 2004).
In a season with the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE), a fencer aged 17 has won gold at the FIE World Championship and three other medals. During the past three years, Zagunis has won the FIE overall medal. Zagunis is one of the best female fencers with remarkable achievements.
1. Valentina Vezzali - Italy
The Italian politician and fencer Vezzali was born on 14 February 1974. Her fencing career has resulted in six gold medals in foil competitions. In the history of the Summer Olympic Games, Vezzali is one of only four athletes to win five medals in the same event.
And now, she remains one of the highest-paid athletes in the world right now. During her Fencing World Cup-winning run, she won 11 titles. For the first time in Olympic history, Vezzali has won gold in Individual Foil three times in three consecutive games.
Nine gold medals were awarded to her at the European championships. Her gold medal haul at the World Fencing Championships includes six individual titles and another eight in team competitions.
Vezzali was Italy's most successful Olympic competitor, and she was active in politics and known as one of the greatest female fencers.
We hope you liked the list of the greatest female fencers of all time. Feel free to tell us in the comment box about the list. We appreciate your feedback.
Greatest Female Fencers | All-Time Infographics
FAQs Regarding Female Fencing
Q. Who is the greatest fencer of all time?
Edoardo Mangiarotti, an Italian fencer who competed at the Olympic Games from 1936 to 1960, won 13 medals, including six golds. One more gold medal goes to Aladár Gerevich for Hungary. However, overall, she has won fewer medals. Italian Valentina Vezzali owns the most gold medals as well, with six.
Q. Who is the greatest female fencer of all time?
It has been suggested that Mayer was the greatest female fencer of all time. She was listed among the 100 greatest female athletes of the twentieth century by Sports Illustrated, but her legacy remains tarnished.
Q. What is a female fencer called?
Fencing practiced by women is known as women's fencing. Summer Olympic Games have been held since the 1924 Summer Games in Paris. Danish Ellen Osier won her first Olympic gold medal in fencing when only foil was used.
Q. Who was the first female fencer?
American sabre fencer Mariel Leigh Zagunis (born 3 March 1985) has won numerous medals. It was the first gold medal won by an American in Olympic fencing, and she is a two-time Olympic champion in individual sabre (2004 and 2008).
Q. How old is Zagunis?
She is an American sabre fencer named Mariel Leigh Zagunis. Her two gold medals in the individual sabre made her the first American fencer to win Olympic gold. Currently, she is 36 years old.