How does a 10-year-old girl become so fascinated with fencing that she bullies her mother into finding her a coach? With Madeline Miyamoto, an Angeleno of Japanese ancestry, it was by watching Douglas Fairbanks Jr. cut and slash his way through a television rerun of one of his old movies. Today, eight years after watching that memorable late movie, Madeline is one of the outstanding fencers in the U.S. A freshman at New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madeline swept through 51 bouts in dual meet competition without a loss this season, took the women's Intercollegiate Fencing Association individual championship. Madeline is a diminutive girl and has the natural advantage of being left-handed.

For Madeline fencing is something of an intellectual exercise. "It is rather like chess," she explains. "You have to think out your strategy, anticipate your opponent's reaction and develop effective countermoves, all in advance." Madeline will have a chance to win a trip to the Rome Olympics by placing among the first five women in the national championships in New York City next week.