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What Juniors and Cadets Should Know About Qualifying for the 2023 Junior Olympics

10/19/2022, 12:00pm CDT
By Bryan Wendell

With registration for the 2023 Junior Olympics now open, it’s the perfect time to review exactly how cadets and juniors can qualify for the pinnacle domestic tournament for these two classifications of fencers.

Siobhan Sullivan (left) fences Kaitlyn Pak during the finals of Junior Women's Saber at the 2022 Summer Nationals. (Photo by Serge Timacheff)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Fencers who qualify for the Junior Olympics feel a mile high. And in the case of the 2023 edition of the event, held Feb. 17–20 in the Mile High City of Denver, that feeling will double.

The Junior Olympics represent the mountaintop moment for cadets and juniors. Fencers who earn gold medals at this event have the right to call themselves Cadet National Champions, Junior National Champions or Junior Team National Champions for that year.

With registration for the 2023 Junior Olympics now open, it’s the perfect time to review exactly how cadets and juniors can qualify for this pinnacle domestic tournament.

Let’s dive into the process.

What Is a Cadet and Junior?

A fencer’s eligibility for a certain classification is determined by their birth year, as outlined in section 2.5.1 of the Athlete Handbook.

  • Born in 2006–2009: Can compete in cadets throughout the 2022-23 season

  • Born in 2003–2009: Can compete in juniors throughout the 2022-23 season.

Note: Be sure to review the “Exception to Age Eligibility Criteria” in section 2.5.1 to see under which circumstances a fencer born after 2009 can fence at the Junior Olympics.

Cadet – A fencer born after 2009 can fence in Cadet local and regional competitions, NAC Cadet tournaments and Junior Olympic Cadet Fencing Championship and qualifying tournaments IF the fencer is on the National Youth 14 Point Standings at the time of the entry deadline for that tournament. 

Junior – A fencer born after 2009 can fence in Junior local and regional competitions, NAC Junior and Junior Olympic Fencing Championships and qualifying tournaments IF the fencer is on the National Cadet Point Standings at the time of the entry deadline for that tournament.

What Are the Junior Olympics?

Here’s what section 2.2.4 of the Athlete Handbook says about the Junior Olympics:

Junior Olympic Fencing Championship (JOs): The Junior Olympic Fencing Championships are held each year in February. JOs is the National Championships for Cadet, Junior and Junior Team in each of the six weapons. Fencers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, meet age criteria and qualify to compete in this tournament. Athletes that have represented another country in the last three years at FIE-level competitions (Veteran/Senior/ Junior and those athletes that represented another country in the Cadet World Championships) are not eligible to compete in a National Championship, unless the athlete has been officially approved by the FIE to represent the USA.

Why Are the Junior Olympics Important?

In addition to crowning national champions, the event also represents the last chance for cadets and juniors to earn qualification points for the Junior & Cadet Fencing World Championships, held each April. The 2023 Junior & Cadet Worlds will be held April 1–12, 2023, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

How Does Someone Qualify for the Junior Olympics?

There are three qualification paths. A fencer must complete at least one of the three to earn a spot at the Junior Olympics.

  • Path 1: Earn any amount of national points between Jan. 12, 2022, and Jan. 11, 2023

    • This includes national points earned at the following national tournaments:

      • 2022 Junior Olympics 2022

      • 2022 April NAC

      • 2022 July Challenge

      • 2022 October NAC

      • 2022 December NAC

      • 2023 January NAC

  • Path 2: Earn at least a combined 110 regional points at your two best regional events between Jan. 12, 2022, and Jan. 11, 2023

    • Take the sum of the points earned at your two best regional events in the span above, and if that number is 110 or higher, you qualify

  • Path 3: Finish in the Top 25% at the Division Qualifiers in your division

Note: If you qualify for juniors, you are automatically qualified for cadet events at the Junior Olympics (if your birth year falls in the appropriate range) because of the trickle-down rule. But it does not work the other way around, meaning cadets hoping to qualify as juniors must meet the junior requirements.

What Else Should Fencers and Families Know About the Junior Olympics?

Results from Division Qualifiers: A note for fencers qualifying through Division Qualifiers: You will not be eligible to register until we receive the official results from the division chair. Emailing us screenshots from Ask Fred the day after the tournament does not count as a credible source. It typically takes anywhere from one to three days for division chairs to email results to USA Fencing and for USA Fencing to upload those results into our system. This process does not happen immediately following the competition over the weekend. Your division should send you an email following the competition to inform you that you have qualified — this is for your records only.

Competitive Memberships: It’s also important to know that if you qualify through Division Qualifiers, you need to have a Competitive membership in order to register for the Junior Olympics. We understand that some fencers who qualify for the Junior Olympics might have a lower level of membership, so we’re sharing this reminder. 

Registration Required: Even if you’ve qualified, you’ll still need to register yourself or your fencer for the Junior Olympics. We do not automatically register fencers for the Junior Olympics.

Qualifying Dashboard: There is a dashboard on the bottom of each fencer’s member page that shows whether a fencer is qualified through regional points or Division Qualifiers. National points are not included in this because we must track them in a separate system because international competitions are factored into the national points list. If a fencer is listed as “pending,” know that it can take up to five business days for them to be switched to “approved” during the registration period.

How Do I Register for the Junior Olympics?

Now comes the fun part! Once you’re qualified, it’s time to make things official.

Find the registration link on the Athlete Info page for the event or in your member profile at

Dates to know for the 2023 Junior Olympics

Oct. 19, 2022: Registration opens

Jan. 11, 2023: Deadline of when a fencer can use results to qualify for the 2023 Junior Olympics. Any regional or national competition that takes place after this date will go toward qualifying for the 2024 Junior Olympics.

Jan. 12, 2023: Last day to register under regular fees 

Jan. 18, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.: Last date to submit a petition for those not qualified but who want to petition for a spot at the Junior Olympics. It typically takes one week after submitting to receive a decision via email. Petition information will be posted on the Athlete Info page associated with the event. (For the 2023 Junior Olympics, that’s here.) If a fencer competed in a Divisional Qualifier, they are automatically not eligible to petition. 

Note: Our team will review all registrations on a rolling basis once registration opens.  Pending registrations submitted near the registration deadline will be reviewed on Friday, Jan. 13, and over the weekend to switch them to approved if the registration is valid. 

All fencers with registrations that are listed as “denied” as of 8 a.m. MT on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, will need to fill out a petition as they have not qualified through any of the three pathways. To petition, fencers must pay the $100 nonrefundable petition fee, or they may reach out to to receive a full refund. 

Remember, the $100 petition fee is not refundable, but if the petition is denied, fencers are eligible to receive back all registration fees minus the $10 administration fee which covers our credit card processing fee for those not qualified who registered.

Tag(s): Latest News  2023 Junior Olympics