Competitive veteran fencing is an option not only for former athletes, but also for those without previous experience of fencing. After all, fencing is not about who is faster, stronger, and more endurable.
A fencing bout is primarily a duel of intellect. Regular fencing classes make it possible to postpone the onset of effect of old age. It is a wonderful means of preserving mobility of the joints, flexibility of the body, sharpness of the mind, and a healthy spirit.
Competitive veteran fencing is a relatively young movement. It originated in Germany in the early 1970s. The first tournament of veteran male athletes using all three types of weapons took place in 1971, and the first similar women's tournament was held in 1972. Veteran fencing tournaments in England began in the 1980s, and the Veteran Fencing Association opened in 1987 with Henry de Silva, who went on to head veteran fencing in Europe. France started staging veteran fencing tournaments in 1985. Russia, Italy, Hungary, Austria, and other European countries joined the veteran movement in the 1990s. In 1991, the European Committee for Veteran Fencing was established. That same year England hosted the first European Veteran Fencing Championship among athletes representing seven countries.
In the following decade, competitive veteran fencing gained widespread popularity, and in 2001 some 600 contestants represented 21 countries at the European Championship in Köln. World championships among veterans have been taking place since 1997.
Veteran fencing competitions are held in four age groups: 40 to 50, 50 to 60, 60 to 70, and 70 years and older. In the preliminary rounds, bouts last until five hits or up to three minutes. In elimination rounds, bouts last until 10 hits. Bouts are divided into two periods of three minutes each and a one-minute break in-between.
Veteran movement in Russia
In the mid-1990s, the veteran movement in Russia was pioneered by male athletes, who successfully performed in international veteran tournaments. In 1997, Russian fencer Anatoly Lykov won bronze in the 50 to 60 years category at the European and world championships. In 2000 in London, the Russian team of epee fencers won the European championship for the first time. That same year, female athletes participated in the veteran fencing tournament held as part of the Russian Championship. Starting with 2001, veteran championships have been officially included in the calendar of sporting events, and from them on veteran fencers compete annually in the Veteran Championship and the Veteran Cup of Russia.