Tearful Hong Kong fencer Vivian Kong promises to make amends in Jakarta after disastrous campaign at Worlds
Hong Kong medal hope wants to put her disappointing outing in Wuxi behind her and focus on finishing on the podium in the women’s foil competition
If you see Vivian Kong Man-wai, don’t mention the 2018 world championships because she is likely to become emotional – or even cry.
Hong Kong fencer became teary-eyed when asked about her disappointing world championship campaign in Wuxi, China, where she crashed out in the first round to an unheralded Uzbekistan fencer in the women’s épée individual competition.
“I have never lost in the opening round [of any competition] over the past 12 months. It only happened at the world championships,” said Kong, who burst into tears when she met the media with the rest of the Hong Kong Asian Games fencing squad at the Sports Institute on Thursday.
“I didn’t take part in the 2017 world championships because I was recovering from a serious knee injury. I was so happy to have had the chance to compete at the Worlds, especially after my [title] victory at the Asian Championships, but unfortunately, I performed so badly. I have learned a big lesson.”
Ranked ninth in the world, Kong surprisingly lost her opening match to Malika Khakimova, of Uzbekistan, after receiving a bye in the elimination round of 64 in Wuxi. The loss sent Kong down to earth after she lifted the Asian title in Bangkok, beating South Korea’s Kang Young-mi in the final in June.
The 24-year-old described her year as a “roller-coaster ride” with highs and lows but she promised to make amends in Jakarta, where she is focused on getting a medal.
“It was all down to mental attitude. I failed to keep focus,” she said of her disastrous Wuxi campaign. “I didn’t adjust well after winning the Asian title and my mind was wondering everywhere when I started the world championships. Now the Asian Games is approaching. I was happy to sit down with my coach and other Sport Institute support staff to review my performance and start my build-up towards the Asian Games.”
Despite Kong’s demise in Wuxi, coach Zheng Zhaokang still considers Kong, along with men’s foilists Edgar Cheung Ka-long and Nicholas Choi, as top-rated fencers who could bring home Hong Kong’s first ever fencing gold medal at the Asian Games.
“The trio have the quality. They only need to deliver on match day to become champions,” said Zheng. “Of course they will face strong opponents at the Asian Games. The Chinese women are the best in women’s épée, while South Korea and Japan are very strong in men’s foil. It will be interesting to see who comes up trumps in Indonesia.”
Fast-improving Cheung stands out as a gold medal hope even though the 21-year-old also failed to impress at the world championships with a 13th place effort in individual men’s foil.
“This will be the first time I will take part in an individual event at the Asian Games. I took part in the team event in Incheon four years ago but this time, I expect a medal,” said Cheung, who is ranked 11th in the world. “We will be also aiming for silver or gold in the [foil] team event, too.”