The 2012 Olympic fencing competitions provided plenty of drama and entertainment. Underdogs rose to claim gold, and a traditional powerhouse dominated.
Here is a look back at what made fencing fun to watch at the London Olympics:
Italy rises to the top
Italy has long been at the top of fencing. But in 2012, it rose to the very top. Italy won a total of seven medals, including a clean sweep of the women's individual foil. Team Italy rounded out its fantastic week by snatching gold in the men's team foil event.
South Korea surprises
With Russia and France usually having strong showings in international competitions, it was South Korea that surprised the world by garnering the second most fencing medals in 2012. With a total of six medals, South Korea had some dominating performances. its best might have been the 45-26 beat down of Romania in the men's team saber gold medal bout.
Underdogs take gold
Aron Szilagyi of Hungary cut an unexpectedly dominant path to gold in the men's individual sabre, which I covered here. But he was not the only dark horse to find gold in 2012. Ruben Limardo of Venezuela took home the gold in men's individual epee, and Yana Shemyakina of Ukraine ground out the gold in women's epee in an overtime thriller.
Team USA disappoints
It was a rough week for Team USA. Despite high hopes, USA only managed to sneak in a bronze at the women's team epee event. The biggest disappointment fell on two-time sabre gold medalist Mariel Zagunis. Zagunis had high hopes of a threepeat, but faded in the later rounds. She had a chance to settle for bronze, but was overwhelmed by Olga Kharlan of Ukraine despite leading 9-7 at one point. Kharlan would then out score Zagunis 8-1 and win by a 15-10 margin.
France fails, Russia misses gold
One of the biggest surprises was France's failure to find the podium. France has long been a fencing leader since the sport originated. Much to my personal surprise, France did not garner a single medal. How embarrassing that must be to happen on long-time rival Great Britain's soil.
Another country that was favored going into the 2012 Olympics, Russia, had a respectable showing with two silvers and a bronze. Russia duelled well, but could not quite reach the top spot in any of the competitions.
The 2012 Olympic fencing events had it all. Drama, heartbreak, thrills, and the lightning fast action the sport is known for.
Christopher Beheler has followed the Olympics since 1984. He became a fan of fencing after taking lessons for a stage play.