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Fencing at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games

1956 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Date Started: November 23, 1956
Date Finished: November 23, 1956
Events: 7

Participants: 165 (142 men and 23 women) from 23 countries
Youngest Participant: MEX Pilar Roldán (17 years, 12 days)
Oldest Participant: USA Norman Cohn-Armitage (49 years, 337 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): ITA Edoardo Mangiarotti (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): ITA Italy (7 medals)


The fencing competitions of the 1956 Olympic Games were held at the St. Kilda Town Hall which was more usually used for council meetings. The schedule remained unchanged but there was an innovation in the form of an electronic scoring system which was used for the first time in the foil events.

Once again the European powerhouses of Italy, France and Hungary claimed exclusive possession of the men's titles (no other nation had claimed gold since 1924) but there was a subtle foreshadowing of the future as both the USSR and Poland claimed medals in the sabre discipline.

The great surprise came in the women's foil where the unheralded [Gillian Sheen] of Great Britain became her country's first and, through 2014, only Olympic fencing champion.

Italy won more gold medals (3) and more overall medals (7) than any other nations and also supplied the most successful individual in [Edoardo Mangiarotti] who two golds and a silver. Mangiarotti's 3 medals in Melbourne gave him 11 total, 2nd only to [Paavo Nurmi] at the time. In Rome his 2 medals would take him to a total of 13 would make him #1 on the all-time Olympic medal list to that point – though it was surpassed in 1964 by [Larysa Latynina].