With transparent masks now compulsory, personality as well as prowess will be on display in Sydney. Europe has traditionally monopolized these events, but China and Cuba are looking to add some dash.
No. 1-ranked world champion Arnd Schmitt of Germany-who won in Seoul 12 years ago-is the favorite in epee (a descendant of the dueling sword) despite Italian Alfredo Rota's victory at the Sydney test event in February.
With world No. 1 Ildiko Mincza of Hungary up against France's equally flamboyant Olympic and world champion Laura Flessel-Colovic, the stage is set for an enthralling battle of wills and glamour.
In a sport of fluctuating fortunes (the foil is the lightest of the three swords), Ukraine's Sergei Golubitsky last year became the first fencer to win three straight world titles. His chief rival will be world No. 1 Ralf Bissdorf, of Germany.
The event's second great rivalry pits No. 1-ranked world champion Valentina Vezzali of Italy against second-ranked German veteran Sabine Bau, team gold medalist at Seoul.
Gladiatorial sparks could fly from fencing's fiercest weaponry when world No. 1 Stanislav Pozdniakov of Russia trades blows with France's world champion Damien Touya, bronze medalist to Pozdniakov's gold at Atlanta.
WHEN TO WATCH
- Individual Epee Sept. 16 Team Epee Sept. 18
- Individual Foil Sept. 20 Team Foil Sept. 22
- Individual Saber Sept. 21 Team Saber Sept. 24
- Individual Epee Sept. 17
- Team Epee Sept. 19 Individual Foil Sept. 21
- Team Foil Sept. 23