Asian Games: Hong Kong narrowly miss out on team gold to cap disappointing fencing week
Hong Kong men’s and women’s team again miss out on gold in Jakarta
There was more disappointment for Hong Kong in the fencing hall at the Asian Games on Friday night when the much fancied men’s foil team fell just short of the gold medal, losing out to South Korea in a dramatic final.
The loss capped a moderately successful fencing campaign in Jakarta for the fencing squad, who missed out on a gold medal in any of the 12 disciplines, but did manage to scoop eight medals in total including two silver and six bronze.
In the final fencing event of the Games, it had looked like a confident Hong Kong team would take the gold that had eluded them throughout the previous five days. But despite a fast start and a solid lead at the midway point, Hong Kong again came up short losing out eventually 45-37.
Earlier in the night Hong Kong’s women shared the bronze medal in the epee capping a disappointing team campaign in which they managed just one bronze.
Individual foil silver medallist Nicholas Choi missed the final due to an injury he picked up in his individual final loss on Tuesday and was replaced by Yeung Chi-ka, who joined the regular line-up of Cheung Ka-long and Ryan Choi Chun-yin for the team event.
It was in Yeung’s match five when the tables began to turn in favour of South Korea in the final with the 24-year-old losing out 7-0 to Jun Heo, allowing South Korea to take the lead for the first time in the contest. A lead that Hong Kong never recovered.
“I didn’t do well in the final,” said a visibly upset Yeung. “I hoped to do better because we knew we had the quality to win the gold.”
Ever-present cheering form the sidelines, Nicholas Choi said that overcoming Japan in the semi-final was a big achievement for his teammates, but acknowledged that Yeung had struggled to cope with the pressure of stepping in just two days before the event.
“Normally it’s three of us, Me, Cheung and Choi who compete in the team event, and Yeung felt some pressure taking to the piste just two days after my injury. I think he was stressed out,” Choi said. “The match against Japan in the semi-final was very difficult, but they came through that well. The most important thing today was to beat Japan. Before the match we actually thought we would lose to Japan, but we won and we were very happy. So in the final we told ourselves, ‘let’s just go for it, no matter what happens.’”
Perhaps eager to make amends for earlier disappointments in Jakarta this week, a spirited Hong Kong team burst out of the traps racing into a 15-9 lead.
“I think the Koreans were very nervous,” Choi said, “but we did really well in the first three bouts. Usually when we fence the Koreans we always lead at the beginning and sometimes we win, sometimes we do what we did today. We lost it in the middle part,” Choi added.
As the final progressed Hong Kong lost their discipline and the penalties began to mount up. Four yellow and four red cards did not help their cause.
Cheung admitted that they had perhaps failed to live up to expectations after their good form at the Asian Championships.
“We came second in this year’s Asian Championships in the team event and had high expectations before this tournament,” Cheung said. “But the Asian Games is only held once every four years and the important thing of all is that you have to enjoy it.”