Agony for Hong Kong's Vivian Kong as she throws away glorious gold medal chance in Asian Fencing Championships final

The 23-year-old Hong Kong star calls herself ‘stupid’ after she throws away a four-point lead before losing to South Korea opponent in the Asian championships final

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 10:23am

Hong Kong fencer Vivian Kong Man-wai blamed herself, calling herself “stupid” after she handed the gold medal to her South Korean opponent on a silver platter in the women’s epee final at the Asian championships on Saturday night.

Kong was within a point of making history at AsianWorld-Expo but despite having a four-point lead at 12-8, she failed to close it out as Kang Young-mi managed to steal victory 13-12 in front of about 1,000 disbelieving home fans.

“I am very sorry,” she said after her heartbreaking loss. “I was so stupid and lacked the determination during the crucial period, to attack or defend as my brain was like empty,” said the disappointed Kong.

Before Kong’s unbelievable meltdown, a minute was added to break the tie after the Korean fencer tied the bout to 12-all after the nine-minute allocated time. The Korean sized the opportunity much better to win.

Kong managed a smile during the awards ceremony with silver still her best result in the zonal championships. But the 23-year-old was apologetic in the post-match interview, saying she was sorry she let down her fans and herself.

“This has happened to me a number of times recently and I must improve if I want to be a better fencer,” she said. “There have been so many people helping us to achieve good results and I should not let them down.”

Kong was given the hardest path to the final after she overcame top seed Sun Yiwen of China in the previous round, winning it 15-13. The mainlander was a bronze medallist in the Rio Olympics where both Kong and Kang lost in the round of 16.

Kong’s silver medal equalled Ho Ka-lai’s two epee silver medals achieved at the 1997 and 1999 Asian Championships but head coach Zheng Zhaokang still couldn’t believe his eyes his charge had slipped up after looking she was coasting to victory.

Landmark medal a huge boost for Hong Kong fencer Vivian Kong ahead of Asian Championships in her home town

“She became a bit conservative after coming close to winning with that 12-8 lead,” said Zheng. “This is normal for every fencer as they like to protect their advantage at that stage but she should also have employed another set of strategies in order to accomplish her target which she didn’t.”

“In fact it also happened in the Budapest Grand Prix this year when she was leading 8-4 in the quarter-finals before losing the match 9-8. We have to sort this out with her and the coaching staff.”

Kong’s silver medal means Hong Kong are still searching their first gold after Edgar Cheung Ka-long’s silver disappointment in the men’s individual foil on Thursday.

With the completion of the individual events, Zheng would expect the team event to bring more honour for the hosts as the men’s team foil, featuring Cheung, Nicholas Choi, Cheung Siu-lun and Yeung Chi-ka, kick off the campaign on Sunday. They have a fairly good draw until the semi-finals as they are poised to meet South Korea. Another two powers, China and Japan, are in the bottom half of the draw.

I’ll come back stronger next time, vows Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung after taking silver

“The four teams are more or less on the same par and it won’t surprise me if we finish first or fourth,” he said. “The fencers must perform their best on the day if they want to become the regional champions.”

Hong Kong have finished with 10 bronze medals in the last 10 editions of the competition and Cheung, who just captured silver medal in the individual foil on Thursday, said this would be the best chance for Hong Kong to break the jinx.

In the men’s sabre individual, Low Ho-tin scored the best result for Hong Kong by reaching the quarter-finals. Low, who celebrated his 25-year-old birthday on Friday, said his birthday wish came true by reaching the last eight which is also his best achievement in the regional championships. He was beaten by Mohammad Rahbari of Iran 15-7, the eventual silver medallist.