Hard work pays off for wheelchair fencer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 September, 2004, 12:00am

For outstanding wheelchair fencer Alison Yu Chui-yee, going to the home of the Olympic Games is the

result of years of hard work and sacrifice.

Alison, 19, is already a veteran of international competitions but she has not yet taken part in the Paralympic Games, which open at the main stadium in Athens tonight and continue until September 28.

'This competition has two special meanings to me,' Alison, a Form Seven student at Our Lady of the Rosary College, told Young Post. 'One is that we will be competing in Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The second is that it will be the first time I have taken part in the Paralympics.

'I feel very lucky that I will be there, but I wouldn't say that luck has played any part in how I got my ticket to Athens. I've worked very hard to achieve it.'

The teenager is one of several medal hopes in the wheelchair fencing team. All four of Hong Kong's fencing gold medallists at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics - Fung Ying-ki, Hui Charn-hung, Chan Kam-loi and Kwong Wai-ip - are returning to defend their titles.

They'll be joined for the first time by a women's team comprising Alison, Chan Yiu-chong, Fan Pui-shan and Wong Kit-mui, who will cross swords in the epee and foil events which start tomorrow.

Alison said she is ready to bring home medals and add to a collection that includes four golds from

the 2002 FESPIC Games, and golds from four separate wheelchair-fencing World Cups.

'My goal when I started fencing was to represent Hong Kong at the Paralympics. I have achieved that, and now my target is to win a gold medal,' said Alison.

She said the appeal of fencing is the challenge it presents. 'I've heard people say that fencing is like chess. It involves the mind and the body, physical and tactical. You only have a very short time during a match to figure out your opponent's weaknesses and defeat them,' she said.

In this form of fencing, a competitor's wheels are bolted to the ground to prevent movement. This makes winning a point exhausting.

'You can never take a rest. There is no backing off to recover energy. You must keep fencing until the point is won. I know my opponents very well now. We have met at other competitions. I'm confident I'll do well,' Alison said.

Hong Kong's 26-strong squad are aiming to beat the medal haul achieved at the Sydney Games. Four years ago, the SAR athletes collected 18 medals, including eight golds.

Hong Kong are competing in six categories: athletics, boccia, judo, shooting, table-tennis and wheelchair fencing.