Team Singapore's Cheryl Wong Ye Han (left) in action against Yanaoka Haruka of Japan during the Women's Foil Individual Preliminaries (Photo by Joseph Nair / Sport Singapore)
They may not have added to Singapore's medal tally on Day 3 of the Asian Games in Incheon, but Team Singapore's fencers can certainly be proud of having a good run while not being intimidated by the quality of the competition.
At the Men's Individual Foil events, Joshua Lim defeated his opponents from Kuwait and Hong Kong to qualify for the round of 16, where he put up a valiant effort before getting knocked out of the competition by Japan's Yuki Ota. Compatriot Zhang Zhenggang won one of his five bouts, beating Curioso Wilfred Richard of the Philippines 5-3.
Cheryl Lim was the standout performer on Monday, having battled her way through to quarterfinals of the Women's Individual Epee event before getting edged out 15-13 in a thrilling encounter with the host nation's Olympic silver medallist Choi Injeong.
Lim had earlier beaten Rie Ohashi of Japan, Fatima Dahi Hammad of Qatar and Xu Anqi of China in the qualifiers, before edging past Kazakhstan's Yunusbayeva Jamilya 12-11 in the round of 16. Her teammate Victoria Lim enjoyed a good spell too, having stormed her way into the round of 16 before losing to China's Sun Yujie 4-15.
National coach Fu Hao said he was delighted with his fencers' performances, saying all of them realised their true potential today.
He said: “I think the girls did very, very well today. The epee category is tougher than the rest because it has a smaller competitor pool, which means the quality of your opponents is higher. Given these circumstances, our fencers were impressive today and we certainly held our own in the face of these difficult, higher ranked players from China, Japan and South Korea.”
Team Singapore's Cheryl Wong Ye Han during the Women's Foil Individual Preliminaries (Photo by Joseph Nair / Sport Singapore)
“If you look at the results and the opponents she was up against, you'll see that Cheryl was absolutely amazing - she only lost one of her matches!” he exclaimed.
When asked about Singapore Fencing's potential of reaching the Olympics one day, he was optimistic of it being in the not too distant future, adding that everyone is working hard towards that goal.
He said: “We lack the experience at high level competitions like these, but we're always working on providing the team more exposure and training hard everyday. We are not afraid to fail, but as I always tell the team, we must know why we fail when we do. We're going to continue to push the envelope and improve.”
Fencing Singapore President Juliana Seow also took time to acknowledge the contribution of the coach, saying that he has helped transform the team.
She said: “The coach has already echoed whatever I needed to say. Our fencing team has improved by leaps and bounds since his arrival. Coach Fu is the most hardworking coach I've ever met – you should see the amount of effort he puts into training. He hardly ever rests.”