Sports History Chronicle World Team of the Year 2014: The Italian Women’s Foil Fencing team

The factors in my decision are mainly based on outstanding achievements in 2014 or in the 2013/14 season if that season ran into a new year.  However, dominance over a number of years can also come into the equation.

My shortlist for the world team of the year was:

Tobias Wendl / Tobias Arlt (GER) Luge – won the Olympics and 6 out of 8 world cup races, coming 2nd in the other two. A great season but the competition in luge is limited.

Hungary women K–4 500 m kayakers – Won the world and European titles and set a world record. Hungary have won every world and Olympic title since 2009 with many of the same paddlers in several squads. This counts towards the longevity criterion but not as much as if it was exactly the same squad. World records can be a little unreliable due to helpful conditions being so important.

Australian women 4x100m freestyle relay swimmers – took three quarters of a second from the world record and won gold at Commonwealth Games and PanPac championships. No global titles to compete for but the best team of the year although bigger chunks have been taken from the record in recent times.

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray NZL (rowing) – extended their unbeaten streak at coxless pairs and at the world champs won that event and then the coxed pairs in a world record. Now unbeaten for six years in coxless pairs. The coxed event isn’t in the Olympics and is weaker. The world records were broken all over the programme at the world champs so are less significant.

Italian women Foil fencing team – won all five world cup competitions they did and the European and world titles. This squad has won every championships entered since 2012. This year at the world championships they won the team title and the four members of the team won gold,silver, bronze and came fifth. Almost perfect.

Mercedes Formula One team – won 16/19 races in the season. Made the world drivers title a two-horse race between their two drivers with one of the most dominant constructors performances ever.

Volkswagen Polo R WRC team (Rallying) – won 12/13 races in the season. Almost complete dominance of the World Rally Championship but the lack of major teams in rallying now makes domination easier to achieve.

Real Madrid (Football) – Champions League and World Club champions. they went on a great winning streak at the end of the year but as they didn’t win the Spanish league in 2013-14 they can’t win my award.

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan AUS (Sailing) – world champions, two wins and two podiums in four world cup races. Also won the Olympic test event. Another dominant season. Belcher has now won five consecutive world titles.

Canada’s Curling team skipped by Jennifer Jones – won every match they played at the Olympics and had 3 other wins in major events in 2013-14 as well as the difficult task of winning the Canadian Olympic qualifiers. Jones led her team to the first ever unbeaten Olympic curling campaign by a women’s team and had a terrific season in the other big events. The proximity of the world champs to the Olympics meant the team couldn’t go for a double.

For my top three I decided that the motor sport teams, although both dominating, have fewer real competitors when asserting their dominance.  They just missed out and my top three are:

3rd Jennifer Jones’s Canadian Curling Team – a brilliant Olympics and an outstanding season in very competitive field, especially in Canada.

2nd  Hamish Bond and Eric Murray – could easily have won this for the second time as they extended their dominance to a new event.

1st  Italy’s Women Foil Fencing Team – possibly the greatest team in women’s fencing history. The leading members of the team are all great individuals in their own right. They are (from left to right in the picture below): Elisa Di Francisca, Olympic individual champion in 2012, Arianna Errigo – individual world champion in 2013 and 2014, Martina Batini – silver in European and world individual finals in 2014,  and last but not least, Valentina Vezzali – the greatest female fencer in history with three individual Olympic golds and six world individual titles.

Embed from Getty Images

Previous Winners

2012 Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (New Zealand – Rowing)

2013 Vakıfbank İstanbul Women’s Volleyball Team (Turkey)


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