2021 National Games of China
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Hong Kong’s Vivian Kong Man-wai against Sun Yiwen of China in the team épée at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the Makuhari Messe Hall in July. Photo: AFP

National Games: Vivian Kong Man-wai claims bronze after beating reigning Olympic champion Sun Yiwen in play-off

  • The 27-year-old seals a 15-14 win over world number two Sun after crashing out of semi-final
  • Kong in with another medal shot in team épée event on Wednesday, while men’s entrant Fong loses in group stage
Hong Kong’s star épée fencer Vivian Kong Man-wai clinched bronze at the National Games after beating reigning Olympic champion Sun Yiwen 15-14 in the women’s individual event in Tianjin on Tuesday.

World number six-ranked Kong piled the pressure on Sun, ranked four places above her, in a razor-thin bronze play-off contest to clinch the city’s sixth medal of the Games.

The 27-year-old Kong lost to in-form Lin Sheng 11-15 in the semi-final. Fujian representative Lin – a 2019 team world champion – shocked Shandong star Sun in the previous round.

Kong won five of her six preliminary matches in the morning, comfortably beating Huang Yihuan of Shanghai on the way to the knockout stages.

Hong Kong’s Vivian Kong Man-wai in the individual épée round of 16 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan in July. Photo: AP

She overcame Jiangsu fencer Xu in the round of 32 and defeated her Hong Kong teammate Debbie Ho Tik-lam in the last-16, winning both bouts 15-6.

“China’s épée level is very high and China’s women’s are ranked first in the world, with many athletes ranked in the individual top 10. Sun Yiwen is the Tokyo Olympic champion. Vivian still won a medal,” said Kong’s coach Zheng Kangzhao. “The top 10 were quote close, both had wins and losses of only one or two points. I am very satisfied with her performance.”

Having missed the National Games four years ago due to a serious ligament injury, Kong now sets up a potential double-medal win should she and teammates Coco Lin Yik-hei and Ho perform in the team épée event on Wednesday.

Earlier this summer, Kong endured a frustrating Tokyo Games campaign after reaching in the last-16 in the épée only to be dumped out by underdog Aizanat Murtazaeva of the Russian Olympic Committee, when a medal appeared in her grasp.

Murtazaeva was the lowest-ranked competitor remaining in the women’s draw ranked 258 in the world. The 19-year-old went on to finish fourth in Tokyo.

Hong Kong men's epee athlete Fong Hoi-sun at the National Games in Tianjin in September. Photo: Chinese Fencing Association

Kong and her teammates were well beaten by China in the quarter-finals of Olympic épée team event.

Hong Kong men’s épée entrant Fong Hoi-sun failed to advance past the group stages in the morning session. He will join Cedric Ho Wai-hang, Ng Ho-tin and Clarence Lai Ka-chun in the team event on Wednesday.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Bronze for épée star vivian kong