Hong Kong's fencers finish on a golden high

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 September, 2004, 12:00am

The wheelchair fencing events came to a dramatic and ultimately thrilling finale for Hong Kong as Fung Ying-ki came from behind to snatch the men's team sabre competition and hand Hong Kong a record eighth gold and 14th medal of the competition.

Fung came to the piste with Hong Kong trailing 40-36, but with his Polish counterpart Arkadiusz Jablonski struggling to find his touch, Fung took the last match 9-3 to take Hong Kong to a 45-43 victory.

'I was not thinking about the total result and the fact that we were behind,' said Fung. 'My coach told me to look at it as if it was 0-0 and start from the beginning again. It worked and we won. However, it was very difficult, because the fencers from category B had been very strong already yesterday.'

Before he came to the piste it looked as though Hong Kong had blown a great opportunity to add to their golden booty. After some excellent fencing from Fung and his two teammates Hui Charn-hung and Tai Yan-yun, Hong Kong led 30-17 after six of nine bouts.

But then Poland's Robert Wysmierski scored 18 hits in the next bout to Hui's four and suddenly it was Hong Kong on the back foot. Stefan Makowski built on his teammate's success and gave Poland a four-point lead going into that last match. That left the door open for Fung's heroics.

'I do not know what happened, I have really no idea right now,' said a distraught Jablonski after the match. 'I met with them yesterday in the direct elimination and in the semi-final and I won. Maybe I was too tired today after all those days and so many competitions, I don't know.'

It is the first time Hong Kong have won the team sabre at the Paralympics, but it wasn't enough to get even grudging praise from coach Zheng Zhaokang. 'My team was fighting at their satisfactory standard. What makes the difference is the below-par performance of their top fencer,' he said after the thrilling title-decider.

'The overall results are a bit better than I have expected. I am particularly delighted to see that the young lady fencers have performed very well.'

The gold meant that Hong Kong took eight of the 15 gold medals in wheelchair fencing. 'I think it's reasonable because eight gold medals in total is more than half of all gold medals in this Paralympic Games in fencing and we can now start celebrating,' said Fung.