HK wheelchair fencers excel at Athens Games

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

Hong Kong's women wheelchair fencers proved they are among the best in the world when they beat Hungary to clinch the gold medal in the epee team event at the Paralympic Games in Athens on Sunday.

Hong Kong occupied fifth place in the medal table with four golds and three silvers after just two days of competition in Greece.

China led the standings ahead of yesterday's competitions with five gold, six silver, and two bronze medals. Spain and Germany were second and third with 14 medals so far.

It is the first time the SAR's women wheelchair fencers have joined their male counterparts at the Paralympic Games, and their presence has boosted the squad's medal-winning potential.

On Saturday, Alison Yu Chui-yee and Fan Pui-shan won gold and silver, respectively, in the women's individual epee Category A event. Chan Yui-chong won a silver medal in Category B.

Alison, a Form Seven student, is on track to win four gold medals, her target before the Games started.

In men's individual foil, Fung Ying-ki and Hui Charn-hung both grabbed gold in Category A and Category B, respectively.

The men's foil team, gold-medal winners in Sydney four years ago, narrowly failed to retain their title, losing 41-45 to China in the final.

'We have done our very best,' said Fung. 'Our mainland rivals are simply too good to be beaten. Their starting arrangement put their second-best fencer into the final fight. It was a strategy which worked well.'

During a wheelchair fencing match, the athletes' chairs are immobilised on a metal platform. The fencers square off within weapons' reach, and touches are registered by an electronic device. There are three weapons in fencing.

In foil and epee, points are scored with the tip of the weapon, and the target is the torso and the whole body, respectively. In sabre, competitors score with a slashing movement.

The Hong Kong team were expected to add to the medal tally in yesterday's individual men's epee and women's foil.

The SAR's 26-strong squad are aiming to beat the medal haul achieved at the Sydney Games four years ago. In 2000, the SAR athletes collected 18 medals, including eight golds. Hong Kong is competing in six categories: athletics, boccia, judo, shooting, table tennis and wheelchair fencing.