Landmark medal a huge boost for Hong Kong fencer Vivian Kong ahead of Asian Championships in her home town
Stanford University student almost beats Olympic champion, but has to settle for silver
Fencer Vivian Kong Man-wai sounded an early warning to rivals at the forthcoming Asian Championships in her home town as she won her first medal at the elite grand prix-level on Monday.
Epeeist Kong was just two points away from beating reigning Olympic champion Emese Szasz-Kovacs of Hungary in the final in Bogota, Colombia, but the 23 year-old Stanford University student had to settle for second after losing two big points in a row.
It was only the second time a Hong Kong fencer has achieved such a feat and a huge boost before her appearance in the regional championships in front of her home fans at Asia World Expo next month.
“She is a talented fencer with good blade feeling, which is very exceptional,” said coach Wong Tsan. “Coupled with her height [1.78 metres] and being a left-hander, it always makes if difficult for opponents to defend.
“She has been in the top 16 in the world for a while and will get better and better with more international exposure.
“She is still green on the world stage as you can see from the last two points in the final as she was too eager to win,” Wong said.
Previously 13th in the world, Kong’s ranking has jumped to seventh after the grand prix result, putting her in a strong position for next month’s Asian Championships.
Both Kong and men’s foil fencer Cheung Ka-long will be the home favourites in the tournament, which comes to Hong Kong for the first time.
Kong was the first Hong Kong fencer to win a World Cup medal (one tier below grand prix) when she came third in Leipzig, Germany in 2014, and bagged a second before the Rio Olympics, where she reached the quarter-finals.
Cheung, 19, also recently won a World Cup bronze after joining the senior ranks.
Chow Tsz-ki (women’s sabre) was the only previous Hong Kong fencer to win a grand prix medal, in Tianjin in 2007.