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Fencing at the 1936 Berlin Summer Games:

Women's Foil, Individual

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Host City: Berlin, Germany
Venue(s): House of Sports, Cupola Hall, Imperial Sports Field, Berlin; Sports Forum, Gymnastics Hall, Imperial Sports Field, Berlin
Date Started: August 4, 1936
Date Finished: August 5, 1936

Gold: HUN Ilona Elek-Schacherer
Silver: GER Helene Mayer
Bronze: AUT Ellen Müller-Preis


The women's foil at the Berlin Olympic harboured more than the usual amount of political significance. The trio of main protagonists were reigning champion [Ellen Preis] of Austria, 1928 victor [Helene Mayer] of Germany and European champion [Ilona Elek] of Hungary. All three were Jewish.

Helene Mayer was the daughter of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother and although she did not implicitly think of herself as being Jewish, this was not enough to shield herself from persecution in Germany after Hitler's rise to power. With a growing threat by a number of nations to boycott the Games in protest at the actions of the National Socialist government in Germany, it was considered prudent for the German team to include a Jewish athlete in their Olympic team. Mayer, by now resident in California, was invited back home to compete for Germany in Berlin.

The final pool was a close affair. Ilek lost to the second ranked German [Hedwig Haß] but defeated both Mayer and Preis to post a 6-1 record which was enough to clinch the gold medal. Mayer's superior record of hits made against hits conceded earned her second place ahead of Preis amongst those with 5 wins with Haß missing out on a chance of gold after an unexpected loss to 7th place finisher [Ilona Vargha].

Ilek defended her title in 1948 and, at age 45, won the silver medal in 1952. Preis also returned to the Olympic arena for a further three appearances. Mayer, who was eventually stripped of her German citizenship, settled permanently in California before the outbreak of war but later returned to Germany where she died of cancer in 1952.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinal PoolSemi-FinalsQuarter-FinalsRound One

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Ilona Elek-Schacherer 29 Hungary HUN Gold
2 Helene Mayer 25 Germany GER Silver
3 Ellen Müller-Preis 24 Austria AUT Bronze
4 Hedwig Haß 34 Germany GER
5 Karen Lachmann 20 Denmark DEN
6 Jenny Addams 27 Belgium BEL
7 Ilona Vargha 26 Hungary HUN
8 Elisabeth Grasser 32 Austria AUT
5 p1 r3/4 Marion Lloyd 30 United States USA
5 p2 r3/4 Dorothy Locke 24 United States USA
6 p1 r3/4 Olga Oelkers 49 Germany GER
6 p2 r3/4 Judy Guinness Penn-Hughes 25 Great Britain GBR
4 p1 r2/4 Erna Bogen-Bogáti 29 Hungary HUN
4 p2 r2/4 Grete Olsen 24 Denmark DEN
4 p3 r2/4 Madeleine Scrève 23 Belgium BEL
4 p4 r2/4 Toos van der Klaauw 20 Netherlands NED
5 p1 r2/4 Ingeborg Scheel 28 Switzerland SUI
5 p1 r2/4 Ulla Barding-Poulsen 24 Denmark DEN
5 p2 r2/4 Margit Kristijan 23 Yugoslavia YUG
5 p3 r2/4 Fritzi Wenisch-Filz 28 Austria AUT
5 p4 r2/4 Denise Kramer-Scholer 25 Switzerland SUI
6 p2 r2/4 Adèle Christiaens 27 Belgium BEL
6 p3 r2/4 Hilda von Puttkammer 23 Brazil BRA
6 p4 r2/4 Agathe Turgis 44 France FRA
5 p1 r1/4 Joanna de Tuscan 28 United States USA
5 p2 r1/4 Berit Granquist 27 Sweden SWE
5 p3 r1/4 Marie Šedivá 27 Czechoslovakia TCH
5 p4 r1/4 Suat Aşani 19 Turkey TUR
5 p5 r1/4 Yvonne Bornand 29 Switzerland SUI
5 p6 r1/4 Ivka Tavčar 27 Yugoslavia YUG
6 p1 r1/4 Carmen Raisová 28 Czechoslovakia TCH
6 p3 r1/4 Marguerite Reuche 24 France FRA
6 p4 r1/4 Aileen Thomas 29 Canada CAN
6 p5 r1/4 Gerda Gantz 20 Romania ROU
6 p6 r1/4 Ebba Gripenstedt 42 Sweden SWE
6T p2 r1/4 Betty Arbuthnott 30 Great Britain GBR
6T p2 r1/4 Nancy Archibald 24 Canada CAN
7 p1 r1/4 Andrée Boisson 35 France FRA
7 p4 r1/4 Thea Kellner 22 Romania ROU
7 p5 r1/4 Halet Çambel 19 Turkey TUR
7 p6 r1/4 Kathleen Hughes-Hallett 18 Canada CAN