AG2018: Every experience counts for fencer Lau Ywen
19 August 2018
She reached the last 16 in her Asian Games debut four years ago and matched the performance this time in Jakarta. But for 18-year-old sabre fencer Lau Ywen, the experience could not be more different.
In Incheon, 14-year-old Ywen was the youngest athlete in the entire fencing competition; “a baby” in her own words who was somewhat awestruck.
Team Singapore fencer Lau Ywen. Photo: Sport Singapore
Four years on, Ywen has burnished her growing reputation by racking up multiple accomplishments. In 2016, she became the first Southeast Asian to win a cadet world championship title in France. She also won gold at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games after recovering from a dispiriting back injury that put her out of action for six months. She was then named the 2017 Sportsgirl of the Year - the first fencer to win a major Singapore sporting award.
With the goal of making it to the Olympic Games, be it Tokyo 2020 or Paris 2024, doing well in major competitions such as the Asian Games is an important step.
At the Jakarta Convention Centre on Sunday, Ywen safely negotiated the poules, winning two of her four bouts to be ranked 13th out of 22 fencers.
Facing off against Japan's Norika Tamura in the Round of 16, Ywen landed the first touch but then could do little as her opponent reeled off eight straight points. Luck was clearly not on her side as the referee made several marginal calls in favour of the Japanese. While her fortunes improved in the second period, Ywen could only get as close as 7-12 before Tamura applied the finishing touches for a 15-7 victory.
Team Singapore sabre fencer in individual competition action at the 2018 Asian Games. Photo: Sport Singapore
Ywen said: “I feel like maybe I don’t have enough experience yet at major Games, I want to get that ability to adapt to situations easily, so when something comes up that I wasn’t prepared for, I want to be able to change much quicker, especially when the opponent is a top-ranked fencer like Tamura.
“Actually, I'm pretty happy with the way I fenced. I’m happy with the experience of these Games, not just in terms of fencing but the entire experience.
“Although I also made the last 16 the last time, I feel like I performed better this time. Last time I was really nervous and let my head get the better of me, mentally I really wasn’t prepared. But this time, I dealt with the whole Games experience a lot better although the result may not reflect it.”
Commenting on Ywen’s performance, her coach David Chan said: “She actually fenced well and followed the game plan we had prepared for weeks and months for this particular opponent.
“What was unfortunate was that some of the refereeing decisions did not go in our favour. These things happen in any kind of sport, so that’s something we have to learn how to deal with.
“Ywen’s just in her first year of Junior (Under-20) and in terms reaching the senior level, she still has quite a number of years to go. That’s why experiences like the Asian Games are really critical.”
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