Gillian Sheen

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Gillian Sheen
Personal information
Born (1928-08-21) 21 August 1928 (age 88)
Willesden, London, England
Sport Fencing

Gillian Sheen (born 21 August 1928) is a British fencer and Olympic champion in foil competition. She won a gold medal in the women's individual foil event at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne.[1][2] She also competed at the 1952 and 1960 Summer Olympics.[2]


Sheen first took up the sport while studying at North Forland School in Kent, and won the schoolgirls title in 1945. In 1947, she took the Junior Championships and went to University College Hospital in London to become a dental surgeon. In 1949, she won her first senior national title and took the British Universities title for five consecutive years. In 1951, she won a gold medal at the World Universities Championships.

Sheen participated in the 1956 1952 Olympics but was eliminated in the second round. She went back to the Olympics in 1956 and took the gold medal for Great Britain.[3] She won with a classic technique in a period when advancing athleticism was changing the sport.[4] The press hailed her as a middle-class figure and emphasized her age (28) and gender so that she was seen as a "dark horse" competitor.[5]

She competed until 1963, winning the British Empire and Commonwealth title in 1958 and her tenth and final British Championship in 1960[6] before marrying and moving to New York City. There, she set up a dental and orthodontic practice with her husband.[3]

Further reading[edit]

Sheen, Gillian. Instructions to Young Fencers (1958) Museum Press


  1. ^ "Olympics Statistics: Gillian Sheen". Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Gillian Sheen". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 19 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Williams, Jean (2014-04-24). A Contemporary History of Women's Sport, Part One: Sporting Women, 1850–1960. Routledge. ISBN 9781317746669. 
  4. ^ Miller, David (2012-04-19). The Official History of the Olympic Games and the IOC – Part II: The Post-War Years (1948–1980). Random House. ISBN 9781780575063. 
  5. ^ Wagg, Stephen; Andrews, David (2012-09-10). East Plays West: Sport and the Cold War. Routledge. ISBN 9781134241682. 
  6. ^ "Dental Olympians". British Dental Journal. 213 (2): 52–52. 28 July 2012. doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2012.630. ISSN 0007-0610.