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03 Aug 1952
Helsinki 1952

Fencer Mangiarotti continues incredible medal streak

It would be hard, if not impossible, to find a fencer who could match the achievements of Edoardo Mangiarotti? The Italian legend was 33 years old when he arrived in Helsinki. By that stage, he had already been an Olympian for half of his life, having made his debut as a teenager at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

Fencing with both foil and épée, he had competed in both team and individual events, winning a medal in each of the four events he contested during his first two Games.

Could he continue that run in Finland? Mangiarotti had raised the bar for himself even higher, entering all four events open to him, ensuring that he would face a gruelling schedule

The Italian had been fencing all his life. His father Giuseppe had been national champion 17 times and had carefully trained his sons to follow. Dario, his older son, also reached the top of the sport, but it was Edoardo who was destined for true greatness, winning his first national title at the age of just 11. A natural right-hander, his father had taught him to fence left-handed because he thought it offered him a competitive advantage.

In Helsinki, Mangiarotti was probably at his very best, and he was especially devastating with the épée. After a relatively slow start in the individual competition he then took control of the event with seven victories to take a clear gold. To make things even better, his brother Dario took silver.

The brothers joined forces in the team event, leading Italy to an 8-5 victory in the deciding match against with Sweden, whose Bengt Ljundquist, finished on the losing side despite winning all his matches. Ljundquist was himself a remarkable Olympian, who fenced in three Olympics, before returning to the Games in 1964 to compete in dressage!

The Mangiarotti brothers now had three gold medals and a silver between them, but Edoardo was not finished just yet. In the foil, he took silver in both the individual and team contests to continue his remarkable run of winning a medal in every event he contested at the Olympic Games.

And at the next two editions of the Games, he added a further three more gold medals, a silver and a bronze, before retiring from Olympic competition at the age of 41. His daughter, Carola continued the Mangiarotti tradition, fencing for Italy at the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games.

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