'Fanatical' HK fencers have too much thrust for Hungary

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 12:00am

Hong Kong's women wheelchair fencers claimed their second gold medal and the SAR's fourth of the Athens Paralympics by winning the team epee.

There was also at least a silver medal in store for veteran wheelchair table tennis player Kwong Kam-shing, who pulled off an upset by beating Norway's world champion Tommy Urhaug in the class TT5 semi-final.

Not represented at the Sydney Games four years ago, Hong Kong's women fencers seem determined to make up for lost time as Yu Chui-yee, a gold medallist in Saturday's individual epee, Fan Pui-shan, Chan Yui-chong and Wong Kit-mui defeated Hungary 45-33 in the team final.

'They are fencing very fast and in a fanatical way,' said Hungarian Judit Palfi, noting the fierce competitive spirit of the Hong Kong squad.

'Apart from that they are training on a professional basis day by day, while we practise our sport as amateurs,' she added.

'The Hungarians are very strong and they have a wonderful fencing style, but we have a very good coach and we practise a lot, so we are very happy,' said Yu Chui-yee.

The 20-year-old should be ecstatic. In just two days of her first Paralympics she already has two gold medals.

'I started after the Paralympic Games in Sydney,' Yu said. 'I was a swimmer first and a friend of mine took me to fencing. It was curious at the beginning, but I liked it very much,' she revealed

Defending champions Poland finished without a medal after losing the bronze medal match to France.

Day two of the fencing tournament was not one of unbridled joy for Hong Kong as the men were unable to defend their team foil title from four years ago. They had to settle for silver after a 45-41 loss to China in the final.

'We are thrilled. We just can't believe that we won the gold medal,' declared Zhang Chong, revealing the mainland's delight at beating the little brother.

Fung Ying-ki, an individual gold medallist on day one, was philosophical after a hard-fought encounter.

'It wasn't an easy game,' he said. 'The score was close throughout and our techniques are almost the same because our coaches are from the same country. I am really excited and happy because we won the Silver medal and that means a lot for me and my team.

'We have done our very best. Our mainland Chinese rivals are simply too good to be beaten. Their starting arrangement, which put their second-best fencer in the final fight, is proven to be working.'

Poland claimed the bronze at the expense of Kuwait.

Hong Kong now has seven medals in the fencing competition -four gold and three silver - and with more individual events taking place in the early hours of this morning, and more team events scheduled later today that tally is almost certain to rise.

In table tennis, Kwong was looking forward to a gold medal clash with South Korean Jung Eun-chong after his upset of Urhaug.

The track and field team also started their programme yesterday with the Sydney Paralympic gold medallist So Wa-wai coming second in his class T36 100 metres semi-final, clocking 12.76 seconds.

But due to a mistake by the starter So was required to make a kneeling start rather than his usual standing one.

'I guess the starter was not aware that a stand up start is allowed for athletes in this class. It has cost him, I believe, about half a second,' said coach Poon Kin-lui.