Hoodoo strikes again for Hong Kong as men’s foil team settles for bronze
The Edgar Cheung-led outfit were expected to break the hosts’ gold medal duck but are beaten by South Korea in the semi-finals of the Asian championships
It was another case of the jitters as the Asian championships hoodoo struck the Hong Kong team for the third time at AsiaWorld-Expo on Sunday.
Hong Kong had gone into the men’s team foil event with high hopes, confident they would break their gold medal duck after silver medals for Edgar Cheung Ka-long and Vivian Kong Man-wai earlier in the week.
But despite the backing of a 600-strong home crowd, the Hong Kong team failed to reach the final, losing to South Korea in the semi-finals and settling for a bronze medal. Hong Kong have so far won two silvers and two bronzes.
But more alarming is the fact that Hong Kong finished with bronze for a nerve-wracking 11th time in men’s team foil after they were beaten 45-41 by the South Koreans.
The crowd had expected gold since it was the home team’s biggest medal hope but the Edgar Cheung-led team failed to rise to the occasion.
“We came here to win the gold medal. We have a good squad and we had the support of the fans but in the end we couldn’t do it,” said Yeung Chi-ka, one of four Hong Kong men’s foil team members. “We missed the opportunity for the gold medal again.”
Cheung, the highest ranked player among all participants at the tourney, could not hide his disappointment after another gold medal opportunity was lost but he was happy to soak up the occasion.
“In the past, we only had the support of our teammates when we competed overseas but this is the first time we heard our names being chanted in Cantonese in such a strong voice,” said the world number eight. “It was a close match against the Koreans. We started very well but unfortunately we suffered a lapse of concentration and this cost us dearly in the closing stages. We have room for improvement.”
The teams were deadlocked at 29-all before Cheung gave the home team a slender 37-36 lead in round eight, but that was the best the hosts could offer as the Koreans then dominated to win the tie and move to the final.
However, South Korea suffered defeat in the final after being beaten by China 45-29.
Both Hong Kong and Japan, the other losing semi-finalist, were awarded joint bronze medals but the hosts took it further by beating Japan 45-35 in the play-off for third place.
This was also the first time Hong Kong have won the play-off after losing in all 10 previous occasions.
“At least we have some sort of a breakthrough in the home event,” said long-serving team member Cheung Siu-lun. “We must thank the support of the fans as they cheered for us all the way through. Our campaign in the Asian Championships is over but we have also other important events coming up, including the World Championships in July in Germany, where we will be aiming for other breakthroughs.”
Reigning world junior champion Cheung Ka-long, who won also a silver medal in the individual foil on Thursday, is looking for the first medal for Hong Kong at senior level in Leipzig.
In the women’s team sabre, Hong Kong were also beaten by South Korea 45-30 in the semi-finals and finished with a bronze along with other losing semifinalists Japan.
The zone championships continue on Monday with Hong Kong men’s epee team taking on India in their round of 16 bout. The women’s foil team has been given a bye in the first round and will meet the winners between Singapore and Thailand in the quarterfinals.