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Poland En Garde


Thursday, June 12, 2003 - Sunday, June 15, 2003

Preliminary rounds and elimination: June 12, Columbia University, Dodge Arena

Finals: June 13 & 14, 5PM, Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall

New York, NY

Few Americans, except those over sixty who may have grown up on 1930s re-makes of Douglas Fairbanks movies, have any feeling of familiarity with the art of fencing, much less as a sport. Popularly overshadowed even internationally by soccer, boxing, tennis, and golf - and of course in the U.S. by baseball, basketball, and football - fencing is for many even more obscure than polo, Jai-Alai, and Tae Kwon Do.

But for 4 days in June Manhattan is hosting the World Cup tournament in fencing, a sport that happens to be a Polish specialty, one in which Poland has consistently excelled internationally since fencing was officially recognized as an Olympic sport. This is perhaps because for Poles fencing, more than any other sport, is a part of our culture with deep roots in our history and literature, and embodies, like no other sport, some of the ideal qualities of our cultural heritage at its best: courage, stamina, imagination, and artfulness. While deeply interwoven with traditional Polish notions of chivalry and honor, it is practiced with a degree of sophistication comparable to that of such other Polish specialties as mathematics, astronomy, avant-garde theater, and poster art.

Poland will be represented by strong teams in both Mens Sabre and Womens Foil. What may surprise neophytes is that fencing has one tradition that makes it more like baseball than tennis: the fans are encouraged to cheer on their teams! And so we heartily encourage Polish patriots, expatriates, Polonophiles, and any sports fans with a spirit of adventure to attend.

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