Making a point: Olympic fencer Ysaora Thibus is fighting for female visibility in sport

action shot of fencer landscape

Director Jade Ang Jackman’s latest documentary short, ‘The Countdown’, starring the recent silver medallist, serves to highlight the lack of media coverage on women in the sporting world

Directed by Jade Ang Jackman

It was a lifelong love of martial arts and a desire to be a changing force in how women in sports are represented in the media spotlight that led London-based director Jade Ang Jackman to make The Countdown. The documentary short follows French fencer and recent  Olympic silver medallist Ysaora Thibus during her training for the 2020 games.  

Flitting between Jackman’s handheld shots of Thibus in action, archive footage of the athlete in training and a self-shot video diary, viewers gain an intimate insight into the gruelling training schedules and dedication required to compete at an elite level. There’s a highly aestheticised element at work here too, with cinematic shots of the fencer wielding her foil in the decorated hall of the Cercle National des Armées. They demonstrate the culmination of hours of training: movements that masterfully temper both power and grace. The fashion is on point too, with Thibus styled in a khaki Bianca Saunders suit from the designer’s AW21 collection. 

woman in suit holding foil
woman standing in suit with foil

With the Olympics currently in full swing, Jackman’s project serves to expose the lack of visibility of female athletes in mainstream media prior to the games. ‘In a study by UNESCO, only 4% of sports media is about women – even less of that is directed by women,’ says Jackman. ‘By 14, girls drop out of sport at two times the rate boys do. For girls from ethnic minority backgrounds, that figure triples,’ she adds. 

In the face of such disheartening figures, Jackman’s film and Thibus’s success at Tokyo 2020 provide hope. Speaking in the documentary, Thibus says, ‘I want young girls to see women who look like them and are winning.’ The growing visibility of women in sport, heightened by this summer’s Olympics – and the subsequent increased meaningful representations is sure to change those numbers.


@jadeshamraeff | @ysaorathibus

Interested in becoming a member?