No, not the Fantastic Four. Only two.

Sports, beginning with the letter “F”.

Part of our rundown of events accredited for the Olympic Games of London 2012.
My thanks, again, to the folks at http://www.olympic.org, for additional facts and figures.

Today:

Fencing, and Football.

Fencing

Fencing

Men (and, to a lesser extent, women) have been hacking and slashing at each other with blades, pretty much since the damn things were invented.

From the 16th to the 18th century, duels were common, as a way of settling disputes. Combatants used a variety of weapons including quarterstaffs and backswords. The results were often deadly.

Modern day fencing began as a form of military training.

It underwent its transition to a sport in either the 14th or 15th century.
Both Italy and Germany lay claim to its origins, with German fencing masters organizing the first guilds in the 15th century – the most notable being the Marxbruder of Frankfurt, formed in 1478.

In the 17th and 18th century, three developments ensuring the safety of combatants led to the popularity of fencing as a sport:

1. the foil – a thrusting sword with a flexible rectangular blade and a flattened tip
2. a set of rules governing the target area, and
3. the wire-mesh mask.

Fencing was included for the first time at the 1896 Games in Athens, and has remained on the Olympic program, ever since.

The women’s fencing competition began in 1924, in Paris.

Today, men and women compete in individual and team events.

Three types of weapon are used:

1. Foil – which has a smaller guard than the epee (below).
2. Epee – A thrusting sword descended from the duelling sword, similar in length to a foil but heavier, with a larger guard and a much stiffer blade.
3. Sabre – The modern version of the slashing cavalry sword, similar in length and weight to the foil but able to cut with the blade as well as hit with the point.

The foil was, initially, the only weapon used by women, until the 1996 Games in Atlanta – when women’s epee was introduced. Women’s sabre appeared for the first time on the Olympic program at Athens 2004.

Italy’s Nedo Nadi is the only fencer to have won a medal in every weapon, in a single edition of the Games.
In 1912, at the age of 18, he won in the foil. Then, after being decorated by his country for acts of bravery during World War I, he won five gold medals in Antwerp in 1920 – in the individual foil and sabre events, and in the team foil, epee and sabre events.

Football

Football

Football has its roots in ancient China, but the modern version of the game began on the streets of medieval England.

Neighbouring towns would play each other in games where a mass of players would struggle to drag a pig’s bladder by any means possible to markers at either end of town. A violent ruckus typically ensued.

Football became so violent in England that it was banned by the king for more than 300 years.

English public schools are credited with laying down the modern football codes, establishing the sport of association football (or soccer, as it is also known) in the 16th century.

Football first appeared at the Olympic Games of Paris 1900. It has been on the program at each edition of the Games ever since, with the exception of Los Angeles in 1932.

The Olympic football tournament always generates a great deal of excitement – among viewers and players, alike.

Spectators get to see their favorite league stars, in international action.

The players get to represent their country – and showcase their skills to an audience that may include talent scouts, sponsors, and agents.

A winner, all round.

Europe dominated the competition until 1992 in Barcelona, where Spain became the last European team to win a gold medal. Since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, African and South American teams have won gold.

Women’s football was introduced into the 1996 Olympic program. Three times, the USA has emerged as champion – in 1996, in 2004 in Athens, and in 2008 in Beijing. But the US was beaten by Norway, in the final of the 2000 Games in Sydney.

So much for the FF.

Join me next time, for the Hs. (Golf won’t be on the Olympic program, until Rio 2016)

Peace.

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