Fencing

Teenager will take foil to Games

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am

Qualifying for this summer's London Olympics came as a surprise to the youngest member of the Hong Kong fencing team.

Nicholas Choi, 19, won a place in the men's foil competition after being ranked 58th in the world by the International Fencing Federation. So far, Choi is the youngest Hong Kong athlete to qualify for the Games. He is also the youngest fencer ever to represent Hong Kong at the Olympics.

'I think every athlete's dream is to qualify for the Olympics - it's like being nominated for the Oscars,' said Choi, who was initially aiming to qualify for Rio 2016. He was pleasantly surprised when an exceptionally good result at last year's Asian championships bumped up his world ranking to 58, giving him an automatic ticket to London.

Though his sporting future seems bright, Choi admitted that he sometimes struggled with the sacrifices required to stay focused when a lot of his peers were enjoying being university students.

Choi put aside school to focus entirely on fencing last July, but said he hoped to resume his studies after 2016.

'My training schedule made it hard for me to go out with friends,' said Choi, who practises 51/2 hours a day, six days a week, usually in the afternoon and evenings.

Choi picked up the sport in Primary Three because playing with a sword was 'cooler' than other sports and he quickly fell in love with it. He started training at the Hong Kong Fencing School in Primary Five.

'My family supported me all the way,' Choi said. His twin sister, Natasha, also fences and will be cheering for him this summer.

'I believe that the effort you put into something, it will somehow come back and reward you in one way or another,' he added. 'It might not be in the form of winning a medal or becoming the best, but you'll always learn something.

'I'm not aiming to win [in London] or anything, but I'm also not just there to enjoy - I want to work hard, perform well and make the best of the opportunity I have,' he said.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Fencing Association will be sending its largest ever squad to an Olympics after Au Sin-ying and Leung Ka-ming booked their berths in London at the Asian and Oceanic qualifiers in Wakayama, Japan yesterday.

Au, a silver medallist in the women's sabre at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, came second in her event, while Leung was third in the men's epee. The top three in each event qualify for the Games.

Hong Kong will now have a representative in each of the six individual disciplines in London, which also includes Lam Hin-chung (men's sabre), Lin Po-heung (women's foil) and Yeung Chui-ling (women's epee). There were only three Hong Kong fencers at the Beijing Games in 2008.