Pulling out all stops for Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung

The recently turned 20-year-old will have a team of nutritionists, physiotherapists and sports massage therapists at his disposal as he seeks glory at the Asian Championships in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 7:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 10:40pm

Hong Kong fencing is pulling out all the stops to help defending champion Edgar Cheung Ka-long and his teammates win glory as the city hosts its first Asian Fencing Championships at AsiaWorld-Expo starting on Thursday.

Head coach Zheng Zhaokang isn’t too concerned about Cheung’s technical skills, which will be put to the test on Thursday with a complete round of competition with medals at stake. The recently turned 20-year-old has already broken into the world’s top 10 and is beginning to show his potential.

Zheng is more concerned about the support side and the little things that can make a difference between winning and losing.

“We have brought a team of sports psychologists, nutritionists, physiotherapists and sports massage therapists and this can only be done because we are the hosts – without having to do any travelling,” said Zheng.

“Cheung is the highest ranked fencer at the championships and has been performing well this year. But he is still young and may find it difficult to improve his level.

“That’s why we need the help of the sport psychologist, especially as this is the first time the youngster will be appearing in front of a home crowd at a such a big event.

“Other sports scientists are also here to offer assistance in different areas to ensure Cheung and his fellow fencers can perform to their best of their abilities.”

Cheung became the first Hong Kong fencer to clinch the regional title in men’s individual foil when he was crowned champion in Wuxi, China last year. His path to the title was sensational as he had to defeat a world champion, an Olympic gold medallist and one junior world champion.

He made it to the Rio Olympics last summer and reached the round of 16. His world ranking also surged from 24th to eighth after winning the Asian title.

The youngster became the newly crowned world junior champion in April and won two training tournaments in China as his final build-up to the Hong Kong tournament.

Cheung’s biggest rival is expected to be world number 17 Chen Haiwei of China and number 18 Heo Jun of South Korea.

Hong Kong can also mount a serious challenge in the men’s team foil, with Nicholas Choi, Cheung Siu-lun and Yeung Chi-ka, all ranked in the top 100.

Another home favourite will be Vivian Kong Man-wai in the women’s epee. The Olympian also reached the round of 16 in Rio and was a silver medallist at a world grand prix tournament in Colombia last month.

The world number seven will face strong opponents, most notably world number four Sun Yiwen of China and Koreans Choi In-jeong and Shin A-lam, world number six and eight respectively.

More than 340 fencers from Asia will be featured in the six-day event, the biggest ever in Hong Kong.