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National Games of China 2017

Silver for improving Nicholas Choi at National Games

Fencer goes one better than four years ago in the men’s individual foil by reaching the final but is unable to match Chinese national team member Chen Haiwei

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 10:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 10:52pm

Nicholas Edward Choi showed improvement by winning silver in fencing on Tuesday to make a flying start for Hong Kong at the National Games in Tianjin, a step up from bronze he won four years ago.

The 24-year-old reached the final of the men’s individual foil before losing to Chinese national team member, Chen Haiwei, representing Fujian province, in the mainland’s “mini Olympics”.

Choi, who captured bronze in the same event when the Games was held in Shenyang four years ago, had to settle for silver after losing 15-9 to Chen.

“The feeling of reaching the final was just wonderful even though I lost at the last hurdle,” said Choi, who also represented Hong Kong at the 2012 London Olympic Games. “We [Chen] have duelled many times before and we know each other’s game and strategies well. If I could withstand his attack and just hung in there, I might have had a chance [for gold] but in the end I lacked the stamina.”

Choi took an early lead 5-3 in the bout but that was the best he could offer as the mainlander dominated, leading 8-6 before the first break before cruising to win the title.

Choi felt sorry for Hong Kong teammate Cheung Ka-long, ranked 13th in the world, after the favourite was beaten by another Chinese national team member, Shi Jiale of Fujian, 15-11 in the round of 16. Cheung, a fast improving fencer who reached the second round of the Rio Olympics, was selected as Hong Kong’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the Games.

“I was hoping Cheung Ka-long would win medals with me but unfortunately he was eliminated first. But we still have the team event to go and we could challenge for a medal again,” said Choi.

While fencing enjoyed a bright start, it was a disappointing day for the equestrian team as they finished ninth out of nine teams in the team showjumping.

Featuring Patrick Lam Lap-shun, the individual gold medallist at the 2009 Games in Jinan, Raena Leung Hou-ling, Clarissa Lyra and Kenneth Cheng Man-kit, bronze medallist along with Lam in 2009, the Hong Kong team was never able to raise their game even after the injection of more than HK$10 million by the Jockey Club to acquire better horses.

While Lam was eliminated in the first round after his horse refused twice to jump, Cheng retired in the next round after he almost fell off from his horse.

Lyra, the youngest member at 21, was able to get a clear round in the afternoon and reached the individual event on Thursday.

“We did not perform as expected,” said team manager Angela Kong Ka-fung. “But there are still other events which we can make amends.”

Lam will get a second opportunity as he will also take part in the eventing along with three other riders.