AG2018: Promising future ahead for Singapore as younger fencers make good headway in Asian Games
20 August 2018
Team Singapore’s teenage foil fencers gave a good account of themselves in the women’s individual competition at the 2018 Asian Games, with 17-year-old Maxine Wong making the top 8 while team-mate Amita Berthier reached the top 16.
Team Singapore fencer Maxine Wong. Photo: Sport Singapore
Both were making their Asian Games debut, with this being the first major Games for Maxine. And the Raffles Institution Year 5 student made it a memorable outing with her eventual fifth position being the best-ever result achieved by a Singaporean fencer in this event at the Asiad.
The previous best of sixth place was achieved at the 2010 Guangzhou Games by Ruth Ng, who is attending this edition as Team Singapore’s Assistant Chef de Mission.
Maxine’s journey to the knockouts included four wins out of five bouts in the pools, including the prized scalp of 2008 Olympic silver medallist Nam Hyun-Hee, whom she beat 5-1 in the pools.
Up against Nam’s team-mate Jeon Hee-sook, the defending gold-medallist, Maxine kept pace in the early goings before Jeon’s superior experience took the Korean to a 15-7 victory. It was a commendable performance from Maxine, given Jeon is twice her age and 100 places above her in world rankings.
“I felt no pressure against Jeon as I felt she was the one with all the pressure on her, and mentally I could fence freely,” said Maxine.
Asked how she felt about her major Games debut, she replied: “Very fun, I really enjoyed it.”
Commenting on his charge’s performance, coach Viacheslav Bobok said: “I'm happy with Maxine's performance. She made a few technical mistakes against Jeon but she fenced well all day and at a high level.
Team Singapore fencer Maxine Wong in action. Photo: Sport Singapore
“She's still a young fencer and is continuing to improve. We'd set a top 8 target for her which she achieved and that's good.”
Meanwhile, Berthier’s first Asian Games outing saw her ranked fifth after the pools, one spot ahead of Maxine, after also compiling a 4-1 record. But the 17-year-old found China’s world number 29 Huo Xingxin a tough nut to crack, losing 15-8 in the round of 16.
With 18-year-old Lau Ywen also reaching the top 16 yesterday in women’s sabre individual, Singapore’s fencing future holds plenty of promise.
Fencing Singapore’s Vice President for High Performance, Yau Wee Sian, said: "We are encouraged by the performance of our Women's Foil debutants.”
“Although Maxine is a final year Cadet (U17) and Amita a first year Junior (U20), both fought gallantly and have acquitted themselves well in this senior competition. Today's individual results will help gained us a better draw in the team competition.”
The women’s foil team event will take place on Thursday 23 August.
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