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A Visual History of Which Countries Have Dominated Men’s & Women’s Foil at the Cadet & Junior World Championships

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In our visualization, we have drawn a timeline showing rolling five-year total Top 8 results for the dominant foil countries at the Cadet and Junior World Championships using data from the International Fencing Federation’s (FIE) database. We thought it worthwhile to provide a longitudinal analysis of the comparative performance of US fencers and the leading foil fencing nations of the world, by tracing the rise and fall of each country’s Top 8 results over time. The undulating ribbons in the accompanying graphs highlight the relative performance of the major foil nations, offering deeper insight into how the Cadet and Junior World Championships have changed as they have grown over the past couple of decades.

To overcome the year-by-year gyrations of the Top 8 finishers and provide a smoother short to medium term trend, we have used a rolling five-year total Top 8 count of results in the post. The data for 2010, for example, includes the Top 8 results for 2010 and the preceding four years, 2006-2009; 8 results x 5 years = 40 data points. The data for 2011, includes the Top 8 results for 2011 and the preceding four years, 2007-2010, etc. In this way, short-to-medium term trends are more easily observed. Scroll over the graphs below to highlight the comparative data for each country. Only data for the top foil fencing countries are provided in the graphs.

For an excellent visualization of the countries that have dominated fencing at the Summer Olympic Games since 1896, check out the article at the New York Times. (Scroll down over half the page). Further details on the history of the Cadet and Junior World Championships can be found here.

Men’s Foil

Since 1987, Italy has dominated cadet men’s foil at the Cadet and Junior World Championships with 50 Top 8 results, followed by Germany and Russia with 31 and 24 Top 8 finishers respectively. The countries are joined by France and the USA to round out the Top 5 foil countries, as illustrated in the graph below. Over the past five years, however, Germany, and France have given up ground to Japan and Russia as illustrated by the narrowing bands in the graph. Italy, Japan, Russia, USA and Hungary now make up the Top 5 foil nations when it comes to cadet men’s foil at the World Championships.

In all, 17 or 30% of US cadet men foil fencers have finished in the Top 8 at the Cadet World Championships since 1987, with Alexander Massialas winning three Top 8 medals (gold in 2010 and 2011, and bronze in 2009), Geoffrey Tourette, two Top 8 medals (gold in 2016 and bronze in 2015) and Brendan Meyers, two Top 8 results (bronze in 2002 and 5th place in 2003). 

Italy has also been the powerhouse foil nation in junior men’s foil since 1987 with 43 Top 8 results, followed by Germany, France, and Russia with 29, 26 and 26 Top 8 finishers respectively.  They are joined by the USA with 16 Top 8 results, to make the Top 5 junior men’s foil nations as illustrated in the accompanying graph below. Over the past five years, the USA has jumped into 2nd place joining Italy, Russia, Korea, China, and Japan in the Top 5. (Russia and Korea are tied for 3rd place and China and Japan are tied for 5th place). Again, Germany and France have given way to the emerging Asian men’s foil nations of Korea, Japan, and China as illustrated by the narrowing bands for Germany and France in the graph.

 

In all, nine or 17% of US junior foil fencers have finished in the Top 8 at the Junior World Championships since 1987. Notable US foil fencers with multiple-year Top 8 results include Alexander Massialas (gold in 2013, silver in 2011, bronze in 2012 & 2015 and a 5th in 2010), Gerek Meinhardt (silver in 2010, bronze in 2009, and a 5th in 2008) and Cliff Bayer (bronze in 1997, and a 7th in 1996).

Women’s Foil

Germany and Italy sit atop the leaderboard in cadet women’s foil at the Cadet and Junior World Championships. With 43 and 39 Top 8 results respectively since 1987, Germany and Italy are joined by the USA, Hungary, and Russia to make the Top 5 cadet women’s foil nations as illustrated in the accompanying graph below. (Hungary and Russia are tied for 4th place).  However, Germany’s dominance has faltered over the past decade as illustrated by the precipitous drop and narrowing of its results band in the graph. Poland and France have also given ground to the USA, Hungary, and Russia in recent years. 

 

Lee Kiefer is the top US cadet women foil fencer at the Cadet World Championships since 1987, with four Top 8 medals, gold in 2010, silver in 2009 & 2011 and a bronze in 2008. The legendary American, Iris Zimmermann, co-owner of Rochester Fencing Club, lead the way for a generation of cadet women foil fencers, with three Top 8 results, gold in 1995 and 1997 and, a 5th place in 1996.

Since 1987, another eight US women foil fencers achieved Podium medals at the Cadet World Championships; Andrea Ament, silver in 1999, Sylvie Binder, gold in 2016 and silver in 2015, Emily Cross, gold in 2003, Stefani Deschner, silver in 2016, Sabrina Massialas, silver in 2013 & 2014, Nzinga Prescod, gold in 2008 & 2009, Sara Taffel, silver in 2012 and Felicia Zimmerman, bronze in 1992.

In all, 16 or 35% of US cadet women foil fencers have won a Top 8 result at the Cadet World Championships since 1987.

Italy sits atop the leaderboard with 47 Top 8 finishers won at the Junior World Championships since 1987. The runners up include the USA, Russia, France and Germany with 29, 26, 25 and 24 Top 8 results respectively. The USA has clearly emerged as the major threat to Italy’s dominance in recent years. Russia, France, Poland and China are currently in the Top 5 junior women’s foil nations. (Poland and China are tied for 5th place). Germany and Hungary have lost ground in recent years as illustrated in the graph.

 

The path was paved again by Iris Zimmermann with five Top 8 results between 1997 and 2001. She won gold in 2000, silver in 1997, bronze in 1996 and a 7th and 8th in 2001 and 1999 respectively. Lee Kiefer followed with five Top 8 places; gold in 2014, silver in 2011, bronze in 2012 and 2013 and a 5th in 2010.

Three other Americans added three results each to the total USA count: Monique De Bruin, bronze in 1994, and a 7th in 1996 and 1997, Nzingha Prescod, gold in 2011, 5th in 2012 and an 8th in 2009, and Doris Willette, 5th in 2008, 7th in 2006 and an 8th in 2005. In all, 13 or 36% of US junior women foil fencers finished in the Top 8 at the Junior World Championships since 1987.

Apart from cadet women’s foil, Italy has been the dominant foil nation at the Cadet and Junior World Championships since 1987, as illustrated in the table below. It has amassed significantly more Top 8 results than any other country over the period. The runners-up include Germany, Russia, France and USA. Poland and Hungary straddle the league between the dominant five nations and the emerging Asian nations of Korea, China, and Japan.  

Ranking of Countries by Top 8 Results in Women's & Men's Foil at the Cadet & Junior World Championships 1987-2016

CountryCadet Women's FoilCadet Men's FoilJunior Women's FoilJunior Men's FoilTotal
Total240239240240959
Italy39504743179
Germany43312429127
Russia2324262699
France2220252693
USA2817291690
Poland1814231368
Hungary23920759
Korea6881133
China3141431
Japan5134729
Israel532515
Austria332513
Great Britain51612
Belgium63110
Romania21519
Ukraine23139
Canada12238
Sweden22138
Spain437
Greece1326
Cuba1135
Egypt1135
Czech Republic224
Netherlands2114
Singapore134
Slovakia134
Venezuela314
Croatia123
Denmark123
Hong Kong33
Argentina112
Belarus112
Turkey112
Australia11
Brazil11
Colombia11
Libya11
Luxembourg11
Moldova11
Portugal11
Switzerland11
Tunisia11
Source: International Fencing Federation. (1) The data for Cadet Men's Foil omits one Top 8 fencer in 1997.

Over the past five years, the USA has moved into second place behind Italy as illustrated below. The dominant nations remain at the top of the ranking, with Japan challenging Russia for third place.

Ranking of Countries by Top 8 Results in Women's & Men's Foil at the Cadet & Junior World Championships 2012-2016

CountryCadet Women's FoilCadet Men's FoilJunior Women's FoilJunior Men's FoilTotal
Total40404040160
Italy778628
USA858526
Russia465419
Japan272314
Hungary54110
France11529
Poland31329
Germany31217
Korea347
China336
Singapore134
Canada123
Hong Kong33
Croatia112
Czech Republic22
Greece112
Turkey112
Brazil11
Cuba11
Denmark11
Great Britain11
Israel11
Libya11
Ukraine11
Source: International Fencing Federation.

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