Hong Kong paraplegic fencer Fung Ying-ki stepped out of the shadows of his idol and mentor, Ben Cheung Wai-leung, by winning his third gold medal in the men's individual sabre Class A event yesterday. But Fung failed to match Cheung's four-time gold medal performance in Atlanta after Hong Kong lost a nail-biting semi-final against France in the men's team sabre.
Fung, who seven years ago was struck down by a virus which left him with less than 50 per cent use of his legs, snared top prize again to push Hong Kong's gold medal tally to five, equalling Hong Kong's five gold medals in Atlanta.
Hong Kong are now ranked 11th in the medal standings on five golds, one silver and one bronze in Sydney.
Fung teamed up with Tai Yan-yun and Hui Charn-hung in the men's sabre team event and suffered heartbreak when they lost 44-45 to France in the semi-finals. France went on to win gold.
The SAR team settled for a bronze after beating Germany's Wolfgang Kempf, Uwe Bartmann and Wilfried Lipinski 45-36.
'To win the men's individual, then the men's team and then the individual sabre is a dream come true for me,' said 20-year-old Fung. 'I knew I'd do well in these Games but I didn't expect to do that well. I was thinking of a fourth gold medal but things didn't go quite our way and we had to be content with a bronze medal in the end,' he said.
Fung was tipped by Cheung to be the star fencer at the Sydney Games and the 1996 Hong Kong paralympic hero made that prediction only months after helping Hong Kong win four of their five gold medals in Atlanta.
It was the coming of age for Fung who disposed of France's Cyril More 15-7 to win his third gold medal - the second time he has beaten a Frenchman in the individual sabre after having already disposed of Yvon Pacault in the semi-finals.
'I was pretty much in control during the match but it was not easy for me. I had to sweat and toil to win and I was relieved when it was all over,' said Fung.
Germany's Wolfgang Kempf defeated Pacault 15-10 to grab bronze as Hong Kong fencers continued to amaze the more established European fencing nations by snatching three golds in the competition.
Fung captured his second gold when he teamed up with Hui Charn-hung and Chan Kam-loi in winning the men's team foil, beating the Polish team.
Fung won the men's individual foil final by beating Italian Alberto Pellegrini 15-9 last week.