HK's wheelchair fencers see China team as major threat Wheelchair fencing requires physical agility, strategy and exceptional mental focus. Hong Kong's 'Wheelchair Fencing White Warriors' are highly respected and among the best in the world - and it is no wonder, with their eight golds, five silvers and one bronze won in Athens in 2004. Beijing will present a tough battle to exceed or match that showing. The number of medals available has been reduced from 15 to 10, and as a result the size of the Hong Kong team has shrunk by almost half, with six athletes taking part. The team has just wrapped up an intensive five-week training programme. In the fencing hall of the Hong Kong Sports Institute in Ma On Shan, the White Warriors are strapped into their wheelchairs with their fencing masks on. They are hard at work. Blades whip back and forth under the supervision of coach Zhang Zhao-kang. 'Without a doubt, our team faces more difficulties in Beijing,' Zhang says. 'With the threat of the growing China team, our chances of winning are 50-50. They are under rigorous training, and we can't underestimate them. 'Prior to the last Games in Athens, we travelled up to Nanjing to train with the Chinese national team. This time around, China are competing with us.' Yu Chui-yee completes her stretching exercises in preparation for three hours of training. She won four golds in Athens, and despite the pressure to turn out a repeat performance, appears calm. A fresh graduate in geography from Chinese University, the one-legged swordswoman is ranked No1 in the world in foil and epee. 'In previous games, our rivals were mostly Europeans,' says Yu. 'We now have to face more competitors from China. Their wheelchair fencing team has taken off tremendously in the past few years. 'They have been given immense resources, which the Hong Kong team can scarcely afford. The China team have channelled the interest and resources to improve their skills and tactics. They may be a challenge, but it is my honour to participate in the Paralympics in our own country. It's been my dream.' Yu, who was born in 1984, had her left leg amputated above the knee in 1996 after she was diagnosed with bone cancer. She started as a swimmer but fell in love with wheelchair fencing after her first try. Unlike able-bodied fencers, Paralympic fencers are stationary, with their wheelchairs strapped into metal frames. 'I have confidence in the game and in the Hong Kong team doing well. Winning or not depends on how well we perform. I am an opportunist and a good observer. That's my advantage, which enables me to adopt the best approach to combat my rivals.' Other hopefuls include Chan Yui-chong, Hui Charn-hung and Fan Pui-shan, who have all won gold medals. Chan is a full-time accountancy clerk who has fenced for six years. In Athens she won three gold medals and one silver. She commutes from Wan Chai to Ma On Shan after work for training. 'It's exhausting and not easy, but I enjoy challenges,' she says. There are two new faces on the Paralympics team - Wong Tang-tat and Chan Wing-kin. Chan, 22, is the youngest on the team. He developed bone cancer at age three and lost his right leg. After graduating from an interior design course at Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education this year, he has devoted himself to fencing. 'Fencing requires instant physical reaction and a bit of thinking,' he says. 'I really like this. As it's my first Paralympics, I am physically ready, but psychologically I still need to readjust myself. One of the driving forces behind my will to succeed are my parents, who will be in Beijing to watch me compete for the first time.'