History of the Championships
A twenty years history with...an ancient prologue
The European Fencing Championships organized by the special continental Federation were officially born in 1991, after the establishment of the European Fencing Union (from 1997, exactly Confederation/EFC), created in the same year. But few forerunner editions were previously celebrated: the first one in 1906, in Athens; then from 1921 to 1936 (except for 1924 e 1928) and from 1981 to 1983.
So the first edition can be considered, according to different points of view and historical interpretations, the one of 1906 in Athens, 1921 in Paris, 1981 in Foggia or 1991 in Wien. By the creation of the European Federation, founded in Wien on October 26th, 1991 the European Championships have been organized without any interruption, every year, in the last twenty years.
The previous editions are worth telling for many reasons: except for "Athens 1906", the continental show was born again in 1921, but only with Epée individual competition, won by Lucien Alphonse Paul Gaudin, one of the greatest fencers born in 1886 and four times Olympic Gold medal.
Those European Championships (till "San Remo 1936" edition) were equalized to the World Championships also because the absence of Americans and Cubans, who were at the top in the edition of the Olympic Games of "St. Louis 1904", could be considered at that times very less important. The Italian team made his debut in 1926, in Budapest, winning one Gold and two Bronze medals. One year later, in "Vichy 1927", Italy realized an historical result, with 7 Foil Men reaching the final even if in the end "the intruder" Cattiau from France got the Silver medal. Another historical edition was the one of "Naples 1929": for the first time the Individual Women Foil competition was introduced. Gold medal was Mayer, from Germany. In 1935, at Losanna, it was celebrated the last edition of the European Championships: from 1937 they were called World Championships. In 1936, in San Remo, there was only Women Team Foil competition. The history restarted in 1981, Foggia till "Lisbona 1983" and then, in "Wien 1991", a new Era of the European Championships rose.
The need of having a specific Federation (today the headquarter is located in Gröbenzell, near Munich (Germany) where the Secretary General, Mr. Max Geuter, is based; President is Mr. Frantisek Janda, from Czech Republik) with exclusively continental goals and to support FIE, the International Federation, basically came from the need to promote and develop Fencing in Europe.
EFC consists of 44 member countries: it is the continental confederation under the authority of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) with the largest number of active members. EFC annually applies for more than 4000 FIE licences – that’s almost three times more than any other continental confederation.
Every year the EFC organizes the European Championships for Senior, Junior and Cadets cathegories.
Other EFC goals are facilitate technical collaboration between the different members, coordinate and improve the teaching of fencing in Europe and represent fencing within European authorities.
The Executive Committee elects the members of commissions and councils who deal with specialized areas such as Competition, Veterans, Promotion, Referees, Technical requests, Training, Athletes, Finance, Handicapped, Medical and Women. The work done in youth and veterans areas is exemplary. For instance, there is a Cadet circuit which is unique in the world; again, EFC established a U23-European Championship to assist talented athletes to make them not to give up with sport. There is also a championship for veterans and much more.
Back to the European Championships and watching the roll of gold, we can notice that in1906 edition of Athens (if we consider it as part of the European Championships history) France, Germany and Italy were already protagonists as Great Britain and Holland which came back to be winners in the last decade, at least in Europe, after so many years. Up to now, starting from 1981, we had 24 editions of European Championships, organized by fourteen different nations (three times Austria and Portugal; two times Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy - with the June edition it will rise at three-, Poland and Portugal; one Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine). Since 1981, the top nation in the roll of gold is Italy for conquered Golds (49) and by Russina for number of medals (133 Russia vs. 131 Italy). However, Italy has won the roll of gold in the last three editions, with at least five Golds in each championship (six in "Sheffield 2011").
In order to understand how important the European Championships are, watch at the name of the great athletes who got Gold medals there. They are World or Olympic champions as Bissdorf (Ger), Sanzo (Ita), Vanni (Ita), Baldini (Ita), Cassarà (Ita), Vezzali (Ita), Badea (Rom), Di Francisca (Ita) [FOIL], Pozdniakov (Rus), Montano (Ita), Yakimenko (Rus), Jemaeva (Aze), Touya (Fra), Velikaya (Rus) [SABRE], Kolokbov (Rus), Flessel (Fra), Nisima (Fra), Heidemann (Ger) [EPEE].