Fencing prodigy Kaylin Hsieh Sin-yan hoping to crack world’s top 32 after LCSD Open triumph
- The 21-year-old wins her second consecutive tournament at Hong Kong Sports Park on Saturday with unbeaten run
- University of Notre Dame student is on a roll after double NCAA triumph in March, and targets more progress next season
Double NCAA champion Kaylin Hsieh Sin-yan hopes to rise into the world’s top 32 next season after winning her second consecutive tournament at the Hong Kong Park Sports Centre on Saturday.
The field for the women’s épée event at the LCSD Open Fencing Championships was wide open in the absence of regional champion and Worlds bronze medallist Vivian Kong Man-wai, and Hong Kong No 3 Hsieh duly went unbeaten in all six pool matches, earning straight entry to the round-of-32 as the top seed.
The 21-year-old Hsieh cruised through the first two rounds, but faced far sterner tests in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, where she edged out Moonie Chu Ka-mong and Chan Tsz-ching 15-14 and 14-13, respectively.
She then defeated Fong Sum 15-2 in the final, after the junior fencer had upset defending champion Coco Lin Yik-hei in the semis.
“There was a powerful hit on my face from Moonie during the quarters that made me feel slightly queasy and lose focus,” said Hsieh, who won the President’s Cup in June at the same venue.
“But I knew a first-place finish would be very crucial for me to enhance my local ranking, so I pulled myself together to win the next two rounds.”
The University of Notre Dame scholarship student is on a roll, having won the women’s épée individual and team events at the NCAA Fencing Championships in March.
She did not compete at the Asian Championships in June, though, because her local ranking was not high enough after she opted to miss three tournaments last year because of the city’s strict 21-day quarantine rules.
A new “3+4” system with three days of mandatory quarantine in a hotel followed by four days of medical observation at home should make things easier, but Hsief still has concerns.
“I don’t want it to happen again,” said Hsieh, who will return to the United States next week to begin her third year of school. “It’s better than before, but can I compete or do I have to wear masks?”
The Tokyo Olympian, who is ranked No 50 in the world and finished seventh at the Barcelona World Cup in February, is now aiming to crack the top 32 in the 2022-23 season, which begins in November.
Men’s épée defending champion Fong Hoi-sun, ranked 29 in the world after finishing eighth at the Worlds, was upset 15-7 in the semis by 22-year-old Lau Ho-fung, who was then defeated 15-11 in the final by Nicholas Chau Chak-hin.
On Sunday, the most decorated members of the men’s foil team will be in action, including Olympic gold medallist Cheung ka-long and Asian Championships bronze medallist Ryan Choi Chun-yin.