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  1. #181
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    Lightsaber duelling is an officially recognized competitive sport

    In France, the Force is strong with lightsaber dueling
    By JOHN LEICESTER
    February 18, 2019


    In this Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, photo, competitors battle during a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, it is easier than ever now to act out "Star Wars" fantasies. The fencing federation has officially recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    BEAUMONT-SUR-OISE, France (AP) — Master Yoda, dust off his French, he must.

    It’s now easier than ever in France to act out “Star Wars” fantasies, because its fencing federation has borrowed from a galaxy far, far away and officially recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport, granting the iconic weapon from George Lucas’ saga the same status as the foil, epee and sabre, the traditional blades used at the Olympics.

    Of course, the LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate lightsaber replicas can’t slice a Sith lord in half. But they look and, with the more expensive sabers equipped with a chip in their hilt that emits a throaty electric rumble, even sound remarkably like the silver screen blades that Yoda and other characters wield in the blockbuster movies .

    Plenty realistic, at least, for duelists to work up an impressive sweat slashing, feinting and stabbing in organized, 3-minute bouts. The physicality of lightsaber combat is part of why the French Fencing Federation threw its support behind the sport and is now equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and training would-be lightsaber instructors. Like virtuous Jedi knights, the French federation sees itself as combatting a Dark Side: The sedentary habits of 21st-century life that are sickening ever-growing numbers of adults and kids .



    “With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” says Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general. “It’s becoming difficult to (persuade them to) do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”

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    Lightsaber dueling: Some basic rules.

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    VIDEO: How-to guide to lightsaber dueling.
    In the past, the likes of Zorro, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, joining and even supplanting them are Luke Skywalker , Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.

    “Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Aubailly says. ”Lightsaber films have the same impact . Young people want to give it a try.”

    And the young at heart.

    Police officer Philippe Bondi, 49, practiced fencing for 20 years before switching to lightsaber. When a club started offering classes in Metz, the town in eastern France where he is stationed for the gendarmerie, Bondi says he was immediately drawn by the prospect of living out the love he’s had for the “Star Wars” universe since he saw the first film at age 7, on its release in 1977 .

    He fights in the same wire-mesh face mask he used for fencing. He spent about 350 euros ($400) on his protective body armor (sturdy gloves, chest, shoulder and shin pads) and on his federation-approved lightsaber, opting for luminous green “because it’s the Jedi colors, and Yoda is my master.”

    “I had to be on the good side, given that my job is upholding the law,” he said.

    Bondi awoke well before dawn to make the four-hour drive from Metz to a national lightsaber tournament outside Paris this month that drew 34 competitors. It showcased how far the sport has come in a couple of years but also that it’s still light years from becoming mainstream.
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    John Leicester

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    In France, the Force is strong with lightsaber dueling

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    PHOTOS: The spectacle of lightsaber dueling.
    The crowd was small and a technical glitch prevented the duelers’ photos, combat names and scores from being displayed on a big screen, making bouts tough to follow. But the illuminated swooshes of colored blades looked spectacular in the darkened hall. Fan cosplay as “Star Wars” characters added levity, authenticity and a tickle of bizarre to the proceedings, especially the incongruous sight of Darth Vader buying a ham sandwich and a bag of potato chips at the cafeteria during a break.

    In building their sport from the ground up, French organizers produced competition rules intended to make lightsaber dueling both competitive and easy on the eyes.

    “We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” said Michel Ortiz, the tournament organizer.


    This isn't the car you're looking for: 'Star Wars' fans in cosplay had a ball at the tournament.

    Combatants fight inside a circle marked in tape on the floor. Strikes to the head or body are worth 5 points; to the arms or legs, 3 points; on hands, 1 point. The first to 15 points wins or, if they don’t get there quickly, the high scorer after 3 minutes. If both fighters reach 10 points, the bout enters “sudden death,” where the first to land a head- or body-blow wins, a rule to encourage enterprising fighters.

    Blows only count if the fighters first point the tip of their saber behind them. That rule prevents the viper-like, tip-first quick forward strikes seen in fencing. Instead, the rule encourages swishier blows that are easier for audiences to see and enjoy, and which are more evocative of the duels in “Star Wars.” Of those, the battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace” that ends badly for the Sith despite his double-bladed lightsaber is particularly appreciated by aficionados for its swordplay.

    Still nascent, counting its paid-up practitioners in France in the hundreds, not thousands, lightsaber dueling has no hope of a place in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

    But to hear the thwack of blades and see them cut shapes through the air is to want to give the sport a try.

    Or, as Yoda would say: “Try not. Do! Or do not. There is no try.”
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  2. #182
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    Peter Brand

    Bon touche?

    I don't know these guys. This is way after my time. I stopped fencing decades ago.

    Harvard Investigates Head Fencing Coach for Real Estate Transactions Involving Family of Current and Former Student-Athletes


    University Hall. Photo: Michael Gritzbach

    By Jonah S. Berger and Molly C. McCafferty, Crimson Staff Writers
    5 days ago

    Harvard is investigating the University’s head fencing coach after he allegedly engaged in real estate and non-profit transactions involving the family of current and former students on the team, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay wrote in an email to FAS affiliates Thursday.

    Peter Brand, Harvard’s head men and women’s fencing coach, sold his Needham, Mass. house to iTalk Global Communications, Inc. co-founder Jie Zhao in 2016 for hundreds of thousands of dollars above its valuation, the Boston Globe reported Thursday. Zhao’s younger son, a sop****re, was admitted to Harvard shortly after and is currently a member of the fencing team. His older son, who was also a member of the fencing team, graduated from Harvard in 2018.

    Harvard was notified of the allegations against Brand on Monday, according to Gay’s email. The University has since opened an “independent review.”

    Zhao told the Globe he decided to buy Brand’s house after he heard Brand complain about his long commute to campus. He denied that Brand sought him out for the purchase, calling it a “good investment.” Zhao never lived in the house, and he sold it at a loss of more than $300,000 just 17 months after first purchasing it.

    One week after Zhao purchased Brand’s Needham residence, Brand and his wife allegedly paid $1.3 million for a Cambridge home, roughly $300,000 above its asking price.

    Zhao and Brand did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    Gay’s announcement about the independent investigation comes in the wake of a nationwide admissions scandal in which 50 people have been charged for participating in a scheme involving bribing university officials and falsifying test scores to earn the children of wealthy entrepreneurs and celebrities entrance to top universities. Harvard was not one of the universities implicated.

    Gay wrote in her email that it is the University’s “current understanding” that the allegations against Brand are not related to the scandal and that Harvard has admissions protocols meant to safeguard the process from interference. She noted that all athletes must be interviewed and approved by the College’s roughly 40-person admissions committee.

    Zhao and Brand are also tenuously connected through a separate set of non-profit financial transactions that took place around the time his older son, who was also on the fencing team, was admitted to the College. Zhao told the Globe he donated $1 million to the National Fencing Foundation of Washington D.C. in 2013, the largest donation by far that the foundation had ever received. That same year, Brand and his wife formed a non-profit foundation in Delaware which received $100,000 from the National Fencing Foundation.

    Zhao’s older son said in an interview with The Crimson that he was unaware of the donations until this week and has not heard from the University or outside counsel about the investigation. He pointed out that he was admitted to the College through the Early Action program in December 2013, months before he says his father’s donation “went through.”

    College spokesperson Rachael Dane wrote in an emailed statement that the University is “committed” to upholding the “integrity of our recruitment practices.”

    Brand could have violated National Collegiate Athletic Association rules with the acceptance of that donation, depending on how he used it and whether he took the requisite steps to record the contribution, according to Rick Allen, founder of Informed Athlete, which helps prospective college athletes navigate NCAA rules.

    “There’s potential there that that could end up being a violation of the rules regarding coaches reporting and accepting outside income if he personally benefited from that money,” he said in an interview with The Crimson. “It would have to depend on whether the money was reported and how it was utilized.”

    Though Allen said Zhao’s purchase of the house would likely not constitute an NCAA violation, Zhao’s decision to buy plane tickets for multiple members of the fencing team could run afoul of regulations around “impermissible benefits.”

    Allen cautioned, though, that it likely depended on whether the other students on the flights were longtime friends of Zhao’s sons and if the trips were for competition or purely for leisure.

    — Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at jonah.berger@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.

    —Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mollmccaff.
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  3. #183
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    Lake Bell Teaches "Funky Fencing" Class | Busy Tonight | E!

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  4. #184
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    The last duel

    Aldo Nadi discusses participating in a duel in his book On Fencing. I studied that text for my Provost exam as my Master for that course, Dr. William Gaugler, was a pupil of Nadi.

    The Last Duel Took Place in France in 1967, and It’s Caught on Film
    in History | May 2nd, 2019



    Another man insults your honor, leaving you no choice but to challenge him to a highly formalized fight to the death: in the 21st century, the very idea strikes us as almost incomprehensibly of the past. And dueling is indeed dead, at least in all the lands that historically had the most enthusiasm for it, but it hasn't been dead for as long as we might assume. The last recorded duel performed not with pistols but swords (specifically épées, the largest type of swords used in fencing) took place in France in 1967 — the year of the Saturn V and the Boeing 737, the Detroit riots and the Six-Day War, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Summer of Love.

    The duelists were Marseilles mayor Gaston Defferre and another politician names Rene Ribière. "After a clash in the National Assembly, Defferre yelled 'Taisez-vous, abruti!' at Ribiere and refused to apologize," writes professional stage-and-screen fight coordinator Jared Kirby. "Ribière challenged and Defferre accepted. The duel took place with épées in a private residence in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and it was officiated by Jean de Lipkowskiin."

    Heightening the drama, Ribière was to be married the following day, though he could expect to live to see his own wedding, Defferre having vowed not to kill him but "wound him in such a way as to spoil his wedding night very considerably."

    You can see the subsequent action of this relatively modern-day duel in the newsreel footage at the top of the post. Defferre did indeed land a couple of touches on Ribière, both in the arm. Ribière, the younger man by twelve years, seems to have taken the event even more seriously than Defferre: he insisted not only on using sharper épées than the ones Defferre originally offered, but on continuing the duel after Defferre first struck him. Lipkowskiin put an end to the combat after the second time, and both Defferre and Ribière went on to live full lives, the former into the 1980s and the latter into the 1990s. Just how considerable an effect Ribière's dueling injuries had on his wedding night, however, history has not recorded.

    via Messy Nessy

    Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.
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  5. #185
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    Imboden kneels

    Has this happened in the martial arts anywhere yet? Few martial arts tournaments even play the national anthem at the podium. Only a few even have podiums.

    US Olympic medalist faces discipline for taking knee after winning Pan-Am gold
    Race Imboden knelt during anthem after winning Pan-Am gold
    Imboden, 26, won Olympic bronze in the team foil event in 2016
    American hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised fist on podium
    Guardian sport and agencies

    Sat 10 Aug 2019 20.01 EDT Last modified on Mon 12 Aug 2019 06.31 EDT

    United States gold medal winning fencer Race Imboden will face possible sanctions for taking a knee during the medal ceremony at the Pan-Am Games, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Saturday.

    Part of the United States gold medal winning squad in the team foil event, Imboden dropped to one knee during Friday’s award’s ceremony as the US flag was raised in a political protest.

    Imboden, a Tampa native and 2016 Olympic team event bronze medalist, later explained his actions on Twitter.


    Race Imboden and Miles Chamley-Watson took a knee during the anthem ceremony at the Pharoah’s Challenge men’s foil fencing World Cup in 2017. Photograph: Devin Manky/Getty Images

    “We must call for change,” wrote Imboden. “This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan-Am Games, taking home gold and bronze.

    “My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.

    “I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”

    Athletes taking a knee has become a way of protesting injustice in the United States.

    The protest was first started in 2016 by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to draw attention to police shootings of unarmed black men.

    Imboden’s gesture preceded a similar protest on Saturday by American hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who raised her fist at the end of the national anthem after winning gold.


    Nick Zaccardi
    @nzaccardi
    U.S. hammer thrower Gwen Berry raises her fist at the end of the national anthem at the Pan Am Games today. (h/t @sergeta)

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    “I love representing my country. America is a great country. It’s the best country in the world,” Berry told USA Today. “However, what we are standing for right now, it is complete and utter – it’s extreme injustice.”

    Both protests contravened an agreement all athletes on the US team signed that states they will not “make remarks or release propaganda of political, religious or racial nature, or any other kind” during the Games.

    “Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature,” USOPC spokesman Mark Jones to Reuters in a statement.

    “In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC. We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment.

    “Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result.”

    The USOPC released the identical statement in response to Berry’s protest on Saturday.

    It is unknown what discipline Imboden could face but could impact his chances of competing at next year’s Olympics, where protests of a political nature are also banned.

    Imboden previously knelt during the anthem at a World Cup event in Egypt in 2017. His protest follows nine-times Olympic champion Carl Lewis branding US president Trump a “racist” and a “misogynist” during a press conference at the Games.
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  6. #186
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    The Olympic Fencer Dagmara Wozniak on Her Take-No-Prisoners Beauty

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  7. #187
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    Stro: The Snake Story



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  8. #188
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    No protesting

    IOC makes it clear: Kneeling, raised fists, other protests not allowed at 2020 Olympics
    Henry Bushnell Yahoo Sports Jan 9, 2020, 8:57 AM


    American fencer and 2019 Pan American Games gold medalist Race Imboden dropped to a knee during the medal ceremony and the playing of the national anthem in Lima. (Leonardo Fernandez/Getty Images)

    Before Thursday, the International Olympic Committee’s stance on protest at the Olympics Games was confined to one sentence in the Olympic Charter. It reeked of ambiguity and invited confusion. What, exactly, qualifies as a protest?

    On Thursday, in an effort to keep politics far away from Tokyo 2020, the IOC answered that question with more specificity than ever before.

    There will be no kneeling during national anthems.

    No raising of fists, à la John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Games.

    No politically charged signs or armbands.

    At least not at any Olympic venue. Not in stadiums or at pools or at a course’s finish line. Not on podiums during medal ceremonies. Not during the opening and closing ceremonies. Not even in the Olympic Village.

    And if there is? Discipline of some sort will follow.

    The IOC laid out its policy in a three-page document published Thursday, six-and-a-half months before the 2020 Summer Games are set to begin. In what it deemed a “non-exhaustive list” of examples, it specifically mentioned the following as “constitut[ing] a protest, as opposed to expressing views”:

    - Displaying any political messaging, including signs or armbands.

    - Gestures of a political nature, like a hand gesture or kneeling.

    - Refusal to follow the Ceremonies protocol.

    The IOC did not specify what the punishment would be for athletes who violate the policy. Instead, it left itself disciplinary leeway. “Each incident will be evaluated by their respective National Olympic Committee, International Federation and the IOC, and disciplinary action will be taken on a case-by-case basis as necessary,” the document reads.

    Which, U.S. Olympian Gwen Berry told Yahoo Sports, is “the crazy thing. It’s like, ‘If you do something, you’ll get in trouble, but we won’t tell you what it is.’ It’s just crazy. It’s a form of control.”

    More on the IOC’s Olympic protest policy

    The IOC document published Thursday clarifies the notorious Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas,” the Charter reads.

    This past summer and fall, after three-plus years of protests of all kinds across many sports, Olympic officials realized they needed to address the rule’s ambiguity.

    This became especially clear after two U.S. athletes staged podium demonstrations during the 2019 Pan American Games. Fencer Race Imboden dropped to a knee during his gold medal ceremony. Berry, a hammer thrower, raised a closed fist during hers.

    The USOC, in response, wrote a letter – which was obtained by Yahoo Sports – to the two athletes. USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland formally reprimanded them, and placed them on 12-month probation, but acknowledged that the rules governing protest needed clarification.

    "We recognize that we must more clearly define for Team USA athletes what a breach of these rules will mean in the future,” Hirshland wrote. "We are committed to more explicitly defining what the consequences will be for members of Team USA who protest at future Games. ... We also expect to work closely with the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee to engage in a global discussion on these matters.”

    Discussions along those lines have happened, and will continue to happen going forward. Berry, however, told Yahoo Sports she has not been asked to participate in them. (The USOC has not yet commented on the IOC’s newly-released guidelines.)

    The 2020 Olympics, of course, will not be an entirely politics-free zone. The IOC did clarify that “press conferences and interviews,” and “digital or traditional media,” are acceptable arenas for free expression. Some athletes, however, feel that restricting free expression is unacceptable.

    Athletes respond to IOC president Bach

    The IOC’s long-standing argument is that the Olympics should be “politically neutral.” That’s how IOC president Thomas Bach put it in a Jan. 1 open letter.

    “The Olympic Games are always a global platform for the athletes and their sporting performances,” Bach wrote. “They are not, and must never be, a platform to advance political or any other potentially divisive ends. We stand firmly against the growing politicization of sport because only in this way can we accomplish our mission to unite the world in peaceful competition. As history has shown, such politicization of sport leads to no result and in the end just deepens existing divisions.”

    The counterargument is the one Global Athlete, an international “progressive athlete start-up movement,” made in response to Bach. “Let’s be clear, the Olympic Movement has already politicized sport,” the group said in a statement.

    It continued: “To mention a few instances; in PyeongChang the IOC promoted a unified South and North Korean team; the IOC has an observer seat around the United Nations Assembly; the IOC President regularly meets with Heads of States; the Olympic Movement notion of sport autonomy is overshowed by Heads of States also fulfilling roles as heads of National Olympic Committees and heads of IOC Commissions hold Ministerial positions.

    “This ship has sailed; the IOC has already politicized sport.”

    Responding to the IOC’s new protest policy, which restricts athletes’ politicization of their sports but not the IOC’s own politicization of them, Global Athlete tweeted, “Freedom of expression is a right!”

    Berry, on Thursday night, told Yahoo Sports: “We shouldn’t be silenced.” The policy, she said, “definitely is a form of control.”

    This contentious conversation will continue into and throughout the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. “It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference,” the document released by the IOC on Thursday reads. That will never be entirely true. But the IOC is determined to protect Olympic competitions themselves from anything that might deter or anger viewers.

    – – – – – – –

    Henry Bushnell is a features writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.
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  9. #189
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    Congrats to Sabrina Cho & the USA Junior Women's foil team!

    Sabrina Cho was the subject of my aforementioned article Kung Fu, Fencing and Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do in our WINTER 2019 issue.

    USA Fencing
    39 mins ·
    The women's foil team won 🥈 on Sunday in Moedling for its third straight Junior World Cup medal!

    Congrats to Delphine DeVore, Zander Rhodes, Maia Weintraub, Sabrina Cho and coach Elyssa Kleiner!

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  10. #190
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    If Tokyo is cancelled, this will be moot

    A Polish Olympian Aimed to Join Team U.S.A. Things Got Ugly.
    Aleksandra Shelton, a four-time Olympic fencer, grew frustrated by what she considered age and gender discrimination. But when she sought to compete for the United States, Polish officials stood in her way.


    Aleksandra Shelton is a former world and European champion.Credit...Mason Trinca for The New York Times

    By Jeré Longman
    Feb. 23, 2020

    As an 11-year-old in Poland, Aleksandra Shelton saw her mother competing in a fencing competition on television. Intrigued by the sport and the allure of also appearing on TV someday, she built a saber fencing career that far surpassed her mother’s aspirations.

    A decade later, Shelton won a bronze medal at the 2003 world championships. Then she took gold at the 2004 and 2008 European championships. She has competed in the past four Olympics for Poland. And she anticipated that this summer in Tokyo she would become only the fourth Polish woman — and about the 220th woman worldwide — to participate in five or more Games.

    But Shelton, a dual citizen who is married to an American serviceman, encountered what she said was age and gender discrimination from Polish fencing officials after the birth of her first child three years ago. So she made a desperate attempt at nation-switching, hoping to head to her fifth Games as an American. Poland, however, has blocked the change, trapping Shelton between the two countries, leaving her unable as of now to compete in Tokyo for either.

    Sandwiched by the heated politics of athletes’ rights and the baroque rules of Olympic eligibility, she is facing the sporting complications that can confront women who become mothers.

    “After every storm, there needs to be a sunny day,” Shelton, who turns 38 next month, said in a telephone interview. “But it’s been more than two years of heavy rain.”

    Shelton said Polish fencing officials began to reduce support for her once she became pregnant after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She gave birth to a son in 2017.

    “She felt she was an expired product in their eyes,” said Carlos Sayao, Shelton’s Toronto-based lawyer.

    Frustrated, Shelton sought a different path to her fifth Olympics, and a chance to win an elusive first medal. She has competed as an American since January 2019. But here the story gets complicated.

    To prevent mass nation-hopping, athletes generally must wait three years after changing countries to compete in an Olympic Games, unless they receive a special waiver.


    Shelton has competed as an American since January 2019, but doing so in the Olympics is more complicated.
    Credit...Tibor Illyes/MTI, via Associated Press

    A year ago, the matter seemed all but resolved in Shelton’s favor before combusting in recrimination during the spring and summer. In September, the Polish Olympic Committee declined to grant her an exemption to compete in Tokyo as an American. And since she has already switched national affiliations once, she can’t compete for Poland anymore. The Polish Olympic Committee declined to comment for this article due to an ongoing legal process.

    Shelton has appealed her case to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, a kind of Supreme Court for international sports. No hearing date has been set, and time is growing short. The United States Olympic fencing team will be chosen in April.

    The case has received widespread attention in Poland, where the national federations that govern various sports operate with near-complete autonomy and can exert tremendous control over the careers of athletes.

    Internationally, the oversight of sports governing bodies has come under intense scrutiny, including in the United States, where recent sexual abuse scandals have rocked several sports, particularly gymnastics and figure skating. In Poland last fall, Witold Banka, a former sports minister, described the top management of the country’s sports federations as being “like a cancer that is destroying Polish sport.”

    Two top officials of the Polish fencing federation said in a joint email that they had not discarded Shelton after she gave birth, but instead had considered her the leader of the Polish women’s saber team heading toward the Tokyo Olympics.

    They expressed suspicion that her effort to compete for the United States was rooted in strategy, not unfair treatment, after Poland’s failure to win any medals at the 2018 world fencing championships. The officials — Ryszard Sobczak and Tadeusz Tomaszewski — called Shelton’s accusations “untrue and full of slander.”

    Shelton tells a different story. When she became pregnant, she said, Polish fencing officials prevented her from becoming the head saber coach at a prominent club in Warsaw. Their claim, she said, was that she lacked experience, even though she had competed in four Olympics.

    Her coach at the time acknowledged in an interview that pregnancy was “a factor” in the decision because the coaching post would have required frequent travel and increased demands on Shelton’s time.
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  11. #191
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    Continued from previous post


    Shelton’s decision to pursue a switch of her national affiliation has cost her competitively and financially.
    Credit...Mason Trinca for The New York Times

    After Shelton gave birth, she said, the Polish fencing federation reneged on a promise to provide a physiotherapist to help her get back into competitive shape. Officials also declined, she said, to let her continue to train in Portland, Ore., a hub of American fencing, where Shelton has lived part time since 2010.

    While nothing was said to her face by fencing officials, Shelton said she heard indirectly from colleagues that the Polish federation felt “I am too old, I should stay at home.”

    Eventually, Shelton said, the Polish fencing federation seemed to sabotage her ability to continue competing for the Polish army team, causing her to lose her military retirement benefits. The federation strongly denied this, saying the army team remained available only to fencers still competing internationally for Poland. Broadly speaking, the federation officials wrote in their email that Shelton was attempting to “manipulate the facts to fit her narrative.”

    Despite recent struggles, Poland’s 22 Olympic fencing medals (19 won by men, 3 by women) rank seventh among competing nations. Individual and team competitions are held in épée, foil and saber events.

    “She is not in a shape that would allow her to compete in individual events, but in the United States she could compete as part of their team,” said Piotr Stroka, who coached Shelton in Warsaw and disagreed with her decision to pursue a nationality switch.

    Stroka dismissed claims of discrimination, saying that Polish female fencers are “perhaps treated even better than men.” In Shelton’s case, he said, the federation “did everything it could for her.”

    Yet it is not unusual for pregnant women in Olympic sports to find themselves in a disadvantaged position. Nike, for instance, faced withering criticism last year from American track stars sponsored by the company for reducing performance-based payments surrounding the period of childbirth. Facing a backlash, the sportswear giant amended its policy.

    In Poland, sports federations in general have also endured searing rebuke. Banka, the former Polish sports minister who is now president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told a radio interviewer in November that federations there are often “managed by irresponsible people who run them in an unethical way.”


    Shelton in Portland, Ore., where she has trained part time since 2010.
    Credit...Mason Trinca for The New York Times

    After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Sylwia Gruchala, a two-time Olympic fencing medalist for Poland, publicly said the country’s fencing federation was incompetent and did not sufficiently support its athletes. After agreeing to an interview for this article, she changed her mind, saying, “I have a good life now and don’t want to start a war.”

    Shelton’s case appeared on the verge of an amicable resolution early last year. U.S.A. Fencing and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee supported her in official requests to switch nationalities. The Polish fencing federation gave her a release for Olympic eligibility as an American. All she needed to become eligible for the Tokyo Games was a final waiver from the Polish Olympic Committee.

    But in March, Shelton, feeling exasperated by what she considered foot-dragging, publicly criticized the Polish fencing federation. Among other things, she questioned the ethics of requiring her to agree to pay 43,000 euros, nearly $47,000, in cash or fencing equipment to secure her release.

    The Polish federation said the payment was necessary to recover training costs it had incurred for Shelton since the 2016 Olympics. Otherwise, officials said, they would have essentially been subsidizing an American athlete. Hubert Radke, a Polish sports lawyer not involved in the case, said that Polish sports federations impose financial barriers and other regulations that frequently restrict the freedom of athletes. Ultimately, the payment agreement fell apart.

    Her comments infuriated Polish fencing officials, and they demanded an apology and threatened to sue Shelton. The fencing federation urged the Polish Olympic Committee not to grant her the release needed to compete for the United States in Tokyo. On Sept. 10, the committee complied. This month, the fencing federation said that Shelton’s behavior was “reprehensible and unworthy of an athlete.”

    Shelton said, “They just want to destroy me.”

    The uncertainty continues, fair or not.

    Radke, the independent sports lawyer, said the matter appeared black and white. “I don’t see any justified reasons to deny her right to compete.”



    Joanna Berendt contributed reporting from Warsaw.
    THREADS
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    Gene Ching
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  12. #192
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    Fencing steps up

    Handshaking Rule Suspended at USA Fencing Events
    03/06/2020, 6:30PM CST BY NICOLE JOMANTAS

    In response to concerns regarding the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Referees’ Commission has announced the temporary suspension of the section of Rule T.122 which states that fencers must shake hands with their opponent at the conclusion of a bout. Athletes must still perform the fencer’s salute at the start and conclusion of the bout. This action will be in place effective March 7, 2020 for all USA Fencing sanctioned tournaments and will remain until further notice.
    Coronavirus Updates

    USA Fencing is continuing to monitor the global situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19). The top priority for USA Fencing is the safety and well-being of all members and participants in fencing events held both in the United States and abroad.

    At this time, the upcoming national and international events scheduled to be held in the United States during the coming months will remain as scheduled. If there are changes to national or international event calendar, updates will be made at www.usafencing.org/coronavirus.

    We will continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and are working in partnership with the Federation Internationale d’Escrime, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and local and state public health authorities in order to create a safe environment for all participants.


    Tips for Fencers, Coaches, Staff, etc.

    Stay home from practice or competition if you feel sick.
    Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer with 60-90% alcohol when restrooms are unavailable.
    Avoid direct physical contact with others (keep a six-foot distance when possible).
    Salute or elbow bump competitors, coaches and referees rather than shaking hands.
    Do not touch your face during a bout or training session.
    Do not share water bottles.
    Do not put your mouth on water fountains.
    Tips for Club Owners and Tournament Organizers

    Make sure to have hand sanitizer and tissues in high traffic areas throughout the training or competition space, including near bout committee tables, water dispensers, score tables, etc.
    Wash all shared gear and use sanitizng wipes on weapons in between uses. Read tips on how to wash masks.
    Keep sanitizing wipes near reels and other frequently touched equipment.
    As always, make sure restrooms and locker rooms are properly cleaned on a frequent basis.
    Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.

    The CDC recommends preventative actions regarding respiratory illnesses, including:

    Stay home when you are sick.
    Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

    If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    THREADS
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    Gene Ching
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  13. #193
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    Please like & follow STRO: THE MICHAEL D’ASARO STORY

    Please like & follow STRO: THE MICHAEL D’ASARO STORY:
    http://strothemovie.com
    http://facebook.com/StrotheMovie
    https://twitter.com/StroTheMovie
    https://instagram.com/strothemovie
    Michael D’Asaro was my fencing coach. This indie documentary is applying to film festivals & can use your support. I have a cameo.



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  14. #194
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    Stro: Tracheotomy



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  15. #195
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    Stro: Nell Diamond



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