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World No 1 Cheung Ka-long is aiming to add the world title to his list of honours. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Cheung Ka-long is Cairo-bound to chase world title for Hong Kong, but may still lose No 1 ranking

  • Hongkonger heads to World Championships hoping to add global title to Olympic and Asian crowns, all in the space of a year
  • But the ranking system leaves him needing a medal and rival Italian to flop if he is to return to Hong Kong as world No 1

Hong Kong fencer Cheung Ka-long is targeting another landmark achievement to add to a glittering past 12 months as he prepares to compete at this month’s World Championships in Cairo.

If the foil sensation brings home the world title, he will have won Olympic, Asian and global crowns – and the world No 1 ranking – in the space of a year.

The 25-year-old left for Spain on Sunday with the rest of the city’s squad for a 10-day training camp to help them acclimatise for the global championships in Egypt.

“There is a well-established training base in Spain, so all our fencers can be more focused and get used to the time difference,” head coach Zheng Kangzhao said.

Cheung Ka-long (left) in action last month in the regional championships in Seoul. Photo: FIE
After clinching his second Asian Championships title last month, Cheung returned to Hong Kong with his teammates and underwent seven days’ hotel quarantine before heading off again with his coach holding high hopes for him.

“I hope the men’s foil will make a breakthrough in Cairo,” Zheng said. “Ka-long has the quality required to be the world champion. He will be world champion one day – whether it is this year, no one can predict, because there are no easy matches in fencing.”

Olympic gold medallist Cheung could lose his No 1 ranking even if he wins the world title.

He sits first with 189 points in the latest world rankings, which were released last month following regional championships in four continents, with Italians Daniele Garozzo and Tommaso Marini in second and third spots with 174 and 134 points respectively.

Under the International Fencing Federation’s rolling ranking system, the two Olympic finalists, Cheung and Garozzo, will lose 96 and 78 points respectively after the world championships. That will leave Cheung on 93 points, while Marini, a non-Olympian and the main threat, has no points to lose.

The 22-year-old Marini has already met Cheung this year, with the latter defeating the Hongkonger 15-8 in the last 16 of the Plovdiv World Cup in April.

Cheung’s only way of holding on to his No 1 ranking is to win a medal – and he will still need Marini to perform poorly. The championships in Cairo are the season’s final competition, and will award 80 points for first place, 65 for second and 50 for third.

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“It meant a lot to the foil team when Ka-long topped the world rankings in April,” Zheng said of Cheung – the second Hong Kong fencer to reach the top spot after Vivian Kong Man-wai, who was the season-ending No 1 in women’s épée in 2019.

Ryan Choi Chun-yin, who collected bronze behind champion Cheung in the foil at the recent Asian Championships, is targeting a top-four finish in both the individual and team events.

Head coach Zheng Kangzhao with Asian Championship medallists Cheung Ka-long (left) and Ryan Choi Chun-yin. Photo: Hong Kong Fencing Association

Hong Kong is sending 24 fencers to compete in Cairo. The others include men’s foilists Lawrence Ng Lok Wang and Yeung Chi-ka, and women’s epeeists Kong, Kaylin Hsieh Sin-yan, Coco Lin Yik-hei and Moonie Chu Ka-mong.

While the foil and épée teams will train in Spain, the sabre team will be leaving on Monday for Budapest for their build-up for Cairo.