Imke Duplitzer is a German épée fencer. Don’t let the fancy “épée” term intimidate you, it is just the French name for a sword that is heavier and less flexible than a foil. It’s also the name of her fencing event, in which the entire body is a permissible target. Imke participates in both the solo and team categories.
Imke has been fencing since 1986, when as an eleven year old, she chanced upon a video of Olympic gold medallist, German fencer Cornelia Hanisch and began training. Imke is an Olympics medalist herself, wining a silver team medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004. This will be Imke’s fifth Olympic Games, and she is hungry for gold.
Capitalizing on her fame as a fencer, Imke is widely known as an advocate for human rights, having studied Politics and Organization at the Fernuniversiat Hagen. During the 2010 games in Beijing, she protested China’s dismal human rights record by boycotting the opening ceremonies. She also joined 40 other Olympic athletes who signed a letter to China’s President Hu demanding an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Scratch the surface and Imke is full of surprises. She is a career soldier in the German army, holding the rank Hauptfeldwebel, equivalent to an American First Sergeant, where she is a PADI (diving) instructor. She also teaches wheelchair fencing, and has participated in a wheelchair fencing tournament to promote the sport to the disabled. But perhaps Imke’s most interesting accomplishment is her work as stunt coordinator for the 2011 movie The Three Muskateers.
Imke has always been open about her sexuality to friends and family, coming out publicly on her website in 2002. From 1998 to 2007 Imke was in a committed relationship, with a teacher from Bonn. The two have a daughter together. Imke Duplitzer is one of the 37 gay athletes profiled in the exhibit Against the Rules which is being presented by the European Day and Lesbian Sports Federation at Pride House during the London Olympics. Send Imke your good wishes on Facebook.
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