Áron Szilágyi has won the men's individual sabre title at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and will be aiming for a hat-trick at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Hungary’s Áron Szilágyi will be aiming to complete a hat-trick of Olympic gold medals when the fencing competition starts here today.

Szilágyi has won the men’s individual sabre contest at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and is expected to challenge for top spot at Tokyo 2020.

Action at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba is getting underway today - the first of nine straight days of competition.

Szilágyi will be hoping to become one of the first fencing Olympic champions to be crowned at this year’s Games.

"I would make history with another individual gold," he said.

"I woke up every day the past five years with the thought to win the third Olympic gold medal individually.

"That’s very, very long for a sportsman to wait for one competition.

"And then we qualified with the team as well."

The women’s epee individual contest will also take place today with Nathalie Moellhausen bidding to become the first Brazilian fencer to win an Olympic medal.

If Moellhausen triumphs, she would become the second woman to win an Olympic gold in the epee individual as reigning world champion after Britta Heidemann of Germany in 2008 and would be the oldest gold medallist at the age of 35.

Ana Maria Popescu of Romania - a year older than Moellhausen - can also achieve that feat as she looks to claim her second Olympic gold after winning the team title at Rio 2016.

Fencing has featured in every modern Games, but Tokyo 2020 will be the first opportunity for men and women to compete as individuals and teams in all three disciplines - foil, epee and sabre.

Prior to Tokyo 2020, there were 10 gold medals available in fencing, meaning the team events had to be rotated across different Games.

This time, the full set of 12 titles will be up for grabs.

Ana Maria Popescu of Romania will be looking to defend her Olympic title in the women's individual epee ©Getty Images
Ana Maria Popescu of Romania will be looking to defend her Olympic title in the women's individual epee ©Getty Images

Bhavani Chadalavada Anandha Sundh also will make history in the sabre as the first fencer to represent India at the Olympic Games.

"It is going to be the first time most Indians watch a fencing match live," she said.

"So [it makes me] a bit nervous.

"I just want to make them all proud.

"I always wanted to play sport and my school gave me a few options.

"By the time I went to give my name, fencing was the last option they had.

"When I knew that fencing was sword fighting I was so happy that I chose fencing."

Since London 2012, South Korea has blazed into the European-dominated fencing scene with a technique based on speed and footwork.

However, sabre world number one Oh Sanguk caught COVID-19 after winning gold at the Budapest World Cup in March and was only released from hospital in April.

The Italian women will be strong contenders in the team foil, alongside the ROC and France.

The men’s foil is one of the United States’ strongest events.

The country’s four team members are all ranked in the top 10 and will have their eyes on individual medals too, with Gerek Meinhardt as favourite.