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Present in the modern Olympic Games since their creation, now fencing seeks its place in the sun in the land of samba. Brazil, which still has little tradition in the sport, wants a place on the podium. And for the main Brazilian fencers, the Rio 2016 Games are a great opportunity to popularise the sport in the land of football.
“I want to make it to the podium in 2016, competing in my country and showing the strength of this sport. I hope fencing is able to grow in Brazil, that its practice becomes commonplace and, above all, that we can practise the sport efficiently and with quality”, said Rayssa Costa, 22, who, at the age of 17, was part of Brazil national adult fencing team.
According to fencer Renzo Agresta, who has participated in three editions of the Olympic Games, the dream of Brazilian fencers is now almost a reality.
“The national sport structure has grown a lot. There is no lack of highest-level fitness trainers, physiotherapists, psychologists and nutritionists who work with the sport in the country”, said the fencer, 28, who has been in the sabre world top 20 and is currently ranked 26.th.
Scavasin in action during his victory for the bronze medal in the team event at the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games (Photo: Getty Images/Buda Mendes)
Thanks to the sport, Agresta lived for more than five years in Italy in order to improve, but is now back in Brazil and trains at Esporte Clube Pinheiros in São Paulo with Belarusian coach Alkhas Lakerbai. Other Brazilian top fencers also train in the country, such as the leader in the national foil ranking, Fernando Scavasin, also from the state of São Paulo.
“I always trained with high-level coaches here in Brazil. I started fencing in March 1997, at the age of 13, with Cuban coach Guillermo Betancourt, who won a silver medal in the team foil event at the 1992 Barcelona Games. From 2001 to July this year, I trained with Russian Gennady Miakotnykh and, since August, I resumed training with Betancourt. Pinheiros [Sport Club] has an awesome team and I still defend their colours”, said the 29-year-old.
Costa, who achieved impressive results early in her career, felt that her performance was not evolving and opted for a change of scenery.
“In order to achieve better results, at the age of 20, I decided to move to Italy, a country with tradition in the sport, with various Olympic titles. I plan to continue training here in Italy, qualify for the Rio 2016 Games and make it to the podium”, said the young woman, who currently divides her time between practising the sport and studying political science at Sapienza University of Rome.
Brazil made its debut in the sport at the Berlin Games of 1936, through the participation of six athletes: Henrique de Aguiar Vallim and Ênio Carvalho de Oliveira (épéeand sabre), Ferdinando Ludovico Alessandri (foil and sabre), Moacyr Dunham (foil and épée), and Ricardo Vagnotti and Baroness Hilda von Puttkammer (foil).
That same year, the electric épée was introduced. The electric foil first appeared at the 1956 Games and the electric sabre in 1988. Until then, touches were counted by judges located at the edge of the piste (field of play).