Team Singapore fencer Lim Wei Wen holds a Singapore national flag as he stands on the podium after receiving the bronze medal for the Men's Epee Individual tournament (Photo by Vivek Prakash / Sport Singapore)
With a smile as wide as his face and drenched in sweat, an emotional Lim Wei Wen struggled to take in the history he made on Saturday at the Goyang Gymnasium.
“It’s beautiful, really beautiful,” he said, and judging from the joyful scenes around him as Singapore’s fencing fraternity celebrated, there was no doubt Lim had found the right words.
His bronze in the men’s individual Epee was not just Singapore’s first medal at this 2014 Asian Games - it was also the country's first ever fencing medal at the competition.
Lim beat his compatriot Lee Mun Hou Samson in a thrilling 15-13 encounter in the round of 32 before going on to beat Uzbekistan’s Aleksandrov Roman 15-8 to earn a quarter-final place.
In the last eight, cheered on by his team-mates, Lim overcame Hong Kong’s Lu Min Nicola 15-11 to assure himself a bronze.
Even though the class of Jung Jinsun, an Olympic bronze medallist, proved a step too far in the semi-final, which the South Korean won 15-5, that could take nothing away from Lim's historical achievement.
Team Singapore's Lim Wei Wen (R) in action against South Korea's Jung Jinsun during their Men's Epee Individual Semifinal match (Photo by Vivek Prakash / Sport Singapore)
“It is not just me but the whole team that reached our goal,” said the the 29-year-old. “I am definitely reaching my best form and as a team we are definitely on the right path. We will continue with what we are doing and hoping we can qualify for the Olympics next time,” he said.
And perhaps the secret to his success was, interestingly, a lack of a target - Lim said he didn’t burden himself by setting a goal for the Games.
“I didn’t come into this competition with expectations. I just wanted to go all out. I simply trust what my coach and teammates have worked on in Singapore. It worked,” he said.
Lim took up fencing almost by accident nine years ago when he was at the ITE Balestier school. Back then, he realised that he didn’t have the opportunity to play tennis and hence swapped his attention to fencing. It has obviously been a blessing in disguise, and one that has seen his transformation into an athlete who can deal with the stress in high-level competition.
“You can learn how to handle the pressure. It didn’t affect me at all and in fact I think that brought me to a higher level, somehow I can get into the zone very well. I think competition is the key to progress for an athlete,” he said.
Lim paid tribute to national epee coach Fu Hao, who has worked with for the past year, “I've learned so much that it is amazing. It is a never-ending learning process with him. It gives you confidence because you know you are not competing alone.”
Fu said Lim had received just reward for his dedication to the sport and promised that even better results lay ahead for Singapore in fencing.
“He works so hard in training. Our improvement will only get higher. Our next target is the SEA Games. I can see the potential of this team in one weekend and since then we have been focusing on getting better and better.”
Fu’s commitment to work and focus has clearly brought results but on Saturday – with history made, it was time to savor a special night.
“It is amazing, I really am very proud” said Lim and there was no sign of that smile leaving his face.