Vladimir Viktorovich Smirnov


Vladimir Viktorovich Smirnov

Vladimir Smirnov (May 20, 1954, Rubizhne, USSR - July 27, 1982, Rome, Italy) was a Soviet foil fencer.

Smirnov won the gold medal in individual men's foil at the 1980 Summer Olympics. He won the World Championships the following year.

During the 1982 World Championships in Rome, Smirnov was fencing Matthias Behr of West Germany. Behr's blade broke during the action. The broken blade went through the mesh of Smirnov's mask, through his eye orbit, and into his brain. Smirnov died nine days later. (The Times, 29th July 1982. pages 7, 12.)

Smirnov was kept on life support until the final touch of the final event was held, when he was disconnected from life support. He was kept alive because no one wished him to die during the ChampionshipsFact|date=August 2008.

Smirnov's accident was the driving force behind the significant improvement of safety gear in fencing. Maraging steel blades (instead of the carbon steel ones of the day), kevlar (or other ballistic nylon) in the uniforms, and masks 2 to 3 times stronger than the one he wore, and other safety rules, all came about because of his death.


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