Road to Rio: Joseph Polossifakis is Montreal’s sabre- champion for gold!

Fencing isn’t a mainstream sport in North America but, Joseph Polossifakis is Montreal’s Olympic Ambassador for the sport, and has made it a well-known discipline throughout Montreal’s boroughs.

His interest for the sport was “par hazard”, according to him: “I went to high school at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf and I saw fencing for the first time there at an open house”… It’s a big sport there and I thought I would try it.”


Polossifakis progressed rapidly. His early exploits were chronicled by colleague Arpon Basu in a Gazette amateur-athlete-of-the-week article in 2008. Four years later, he won a gold medal in team sabre at the world junior championships.

The fencing coach at Brébeuf is Jean-Marie Banos, a four-time Olympian and his weapon of choice is the sabre. But Polossifakis said he nearly switched to the lighter epée.

“The coach needed two or three guys for epée and he needed a left-hander. There were two of us who put up our hand and he chose the other guy. At the moment, I didn’t understand what it meant to stay in sabre, but it changed my whole life. It’s better for my personality and I’ve met so many crazy guys through fencing, so I’m glad he didn’t pick me.”

Polossifakis said sabre is a more aggressive style of fighting.

“It takes less time, you’re more impatient and you have to make quick decisions,” said Polossifakis. “In epée and foil, you have more time to build it up.”

There is also an element of high drama. Foil and epée are judged electronically, but sabre points are awarded by a referee. When the touch is close, both fencers take off their masks and plead their case.

“You’ll be yelling to convince the judge you won the point,” said Polossifakis. “We’re very good at shouting. A lot of the time, we don’t know what’s coming out of our mouths.”


Polossifakis spends a minimum of two hours a day training and a shortage of training partners often results in weeks away from home. He recently spent seven weeks training with the German team.

“I have to create friendships and find people who accept me,” he said. “But it’s hard because you’re not one of them and you’re living in a hotel and travelling to find competitions.”

Today at 11:00 am, Polossifakis will play on the Olympic world screen, we are routing behind him!

Joseph 1

Blogged by: @petronajoseph

Sources: Montreal Gazette


Montreal Gazette

Olympic Team

Huson Bay


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