Eyes on the Prize for 2012

July 29th, 2011: At just under one year to go until the 2012 Olympic Games, the qualification process is at the halfway mark. Four (4) nations have distanced themselves from the rest of the field by leading in the Adjusted Olympic Rankings (AOR) for Olympic Qualification in the 4 Olympic team events.

Italy, Russia, Korea, and the United States right now stand to qualify fencing teams to all four fencing team competitions at the 2012 Games. Three of those nations (Italy, Korea, the USA) also have fencers currently leading the qualification race for all 6 of the individual fencing events.

Only Italy and the United States are now positioned to send a full complement of athletes for the fencing events.

July marked completion of the various zonal championship events, which crown the regional fencing powers in Europe, Asia/Oceana, the Americas, and Africa. Those events set the stage for the 2011 World Championships and the final round of World Cups which will count for Olympic qualifying.

How to Qualify

In order to qualify for the Olympic Games in the 4 team events (Men’s Foil, Men’s Sabre, Women’s Epee, Women’s Foil), a team must rank in the top-4 of the AOR. After the top-4, the top team from each Olympic Zone (Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas) qualifies provided that the team rank within the top-16. If no team from a zone meets the top-16 requirement, then the bid goes to the next team in the rankings regardless of Zone.

For the individual events, there are different qualification paths based on whether or not there is a corresponding team event. For Men’s Foil, Men’s Sabre, Women’s Epee, and Women’s Foil the bulk of the athletes that qualify are from the athletes entered into the team events. It is usually not until after the World Championships that the qualification picture begins to form for those events.

For Men’s Epee and Women’s Sabre, which in this Olympic cycle do not have team events, the qualification is based on the individual fencer’s rankings. The top 12 in the AOR qualify for the Games, followed by the top 2 in each Zone. After March 2012, additional zonal qualifying events will be held to choose the last few athletes to win qualification. In these events, no country can have more than 2 athletes entered.

How does the Adjusted Olympic Ranking (AOR) differ from the FIE World Ranking?

The AOR comprises the points earned by teams and individuals in competition at FIE World Cup, Grand Prix events, the zonal championships and world championships. The period for the AOR is April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012. The FIE World Rankings are based on a 1 year rolling point schedule. Today, the FIE World Rankings include points earned at the 2010 World Championships and other FIE events that do not count towards Olympic qualification.

Current Qualification Races

Men’s Foil: Italy leads the standings, followed by Japan, China and Russia. Regional slots are currently set for the USA, France, Korea, and Egypt. Great Britain has stated that they will use their status as Host Nation to enter their own team in this event.

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Men’s Sabre: European nations comprise the top 4 with Italy followed by Germany, Russia, and Romania. The regional qualifying races are being led by Korea, Belorussia, the USA, and Tunisia. China sits 10 points behind Korea for the Asian slot.

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Women’s Foil: Italy again leads the standings followed by Korea, Russia, and the United States in the top-4. Regional races are led by Japan, Poland, Canada and Egypt. Canada would qualify based on the USA remaining in the top-4. Germany is well within striking distance of Poland in these standings.

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Women’s Epee: China leads the standings followed by Romania, Korea, and Italy. The United States, Russia, Japan, and South Africa lead the regional standings. The European race is quite close with France and Hungary both within 10 points of Russia for the European qualifying spot.

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Updated Olympic qualification sheets can be found at the following URLs:

Women’s Team Foil: http://fnet.us/2012wtf

Women’s Team Epee: http://fnet.us/2012wte

Men’s Team Sabre: http://fnet.us/2012mts

Men’s Team Foil: http://fnet.us/2012mtf