Swords drawn as 6 fencers make Games
Coach Zheng Kangzhao hopes to take Hong Kong to new heights after a record six fencers qualified for the Olympic Games this summer.
It will be the first time Hong Kong is represented in all six individual Olympic fencing disciplines. The squad comprises Lam Hin-chung (men's sabre), Leung Ka-ming (men's epee), Nicholas Choi (men's foil), Lin Po-heung (women's foil), Yeung Chui-ling (women's epee) and Au Sin-ying (women's sabre). Only three fencers from the city competed at the Beijing Games four years ago.
'It's fantastic that we have qualified for all six individual events, but this is not the end of our effort,' said the former mainlander, who took over the head coaching job from Wang Ruiji last year. 'In fact, it's just the start. There's a lot of work we have to do in the next few months before we go to London.
'I'm not saying we'll win medals, because that would be unrealistic. But the fact that we've qualified shows that we're moving in the right direction and now we have to take it up to the next level.'
Zheng, who represented China at two Olympics (Seoul and Barcelona), said he would be looking for top-16 finishes in London - something no Hong Kong fencer has achieved.
'We have planned a series of overseas training camps prior to the London Games,' he said. 'Some of them are training stints with the world's best fencers which will give our athletes the best learning opportunity. And if our fencers can make it to the last 16 in London, it will be a great result. But we should not stop there, either, as our target is the next Asian Games in Incheon in 2014.'
Zheng said China, South Korea and Japan were the dominant forces in the region. 'I want to break this order, with Japan our first target, before taking on the top two nations - China and South Korea,' he said.
'It is unlikely we can achieve this at the London Games, but I am hopeful that by 2014 we will be in a stronger position. Our fencers are agile, have good technique and excellent tactics. If they can fully develop their potential, they can be as successful as the other Asian fencers.'
Au Sin-ying, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, said she was relieved after booking her Olympic ticket at the Asian and Oceanic qualifiers in Wakayama last week.
'Taking part in the Olympic Games is the biggest dream of any athlete,' said Au, a second-year Physical Education and Recreation Management student at Baptist University. 'I was under pressure at the qualifiers because of my Asian Games silver medal. But now the qualification is over and I will look forward to London.
'There won't be any pressure for me in London, just like at the Guangzhou Asian Games, where I came from nowhere to win a medal,' added Au, who has put her studies on hold to concentrate on the Olympics.
At the Guangzhou Games, Au, 23, defeated former world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Tan Xue of China in the semi-finals before losing to South Korea's Kim Hye-lim in the final.