Hong Kong épée star Vivian Kong Man-wai’s campaign to return to world No 1 this year got off to a tepid start as she finished 17th overall at the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday. The 27-year-old Kong, who won the city’s first-ever fencing World Cup title in Cuba in 2019, fell to world No 62 Pauline Brunner of Switzerland 15-11 in the round of 32 having impressed in the group games in Doha. Promising teammate Kaylin Hsieh Sin-yan, 20, bowed out in the same round after losing a truncated match against Nelli Differt 12-7. The Estonian went on to win silver. Meanwhile, fellow Tokyo 2020 Olympians Coco Lin Yik-hei and Moonie Chu Ka-mong finished 83rd and 86th overall, respectively, while Chan Tsz-ching (88), Chan Wai-ling (104) and Shams Wong (116) also struggled in the preliminaries. View this post on Instagram A post shared by KAYLIN HSIEH 佘繕妡 (@kaylinhsieh) In the men’s competition, team leader Fong Hoi-sun lost to Kazakh Ruslan Kurbanov 15-12 in the round of 32, while Cedric Ho Wai-hang struggled against Czech Republic’s Martin Rubes, losing 15-11 in the previous round. Fong, 29, finished 30th overall, with Ho 45th, and teammates Ng Ho-tin 70th, Ng Ting-hin 85th and Clarence Lai Ka-tsun 149th. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Fong Hoi Sun | 方凱申 (@fonghoisun_c) Elsewhere, reigning Olympic and World Cup champion Cheung Ka-long led the way for the Hong Kong foil team’s makeshift campaign in Paris, France. Originally intending to compete at a Grand Prix in Turin, Italy, which was postponed to the end of March because of Covid-19 restrictions, the team instead entered local fencing event Challenge International des Hauts de Seine in Bourg-la-Reine. World No 2 Cheung and world No 8 Ryan Choi Chun-yin were seeded first and second at the event, respectively. Cheung reached the quarter-finals before losing to world No 24 Japanese Kyosuke Matsuyama, while Choi narrowly fell to Tyvan Bibard in the round of 16. Nicholas Edward Choi and Yeung Chi-ka reached the round of 32. Men’s teammates Shawn Cheung Siu-lun, Kyle Chan, Leung Chin-yu, Chiu Man-to, Chris Cheung Ngo-chun and Lucas Brendan Choy also featured. In the women’s event, Valerie Cheng Hiu-wai reached the round of 16, while Sophia Wu, Kimberley Vanessa Cheung and Felicia Guan Yu-ching made the round of 32. Barring more pandemic-related disruptions, they will travel to compete in Egypt at the end of February.