Hong Kong’s Olympic champion fencer Cheung Ka-long told to target medals, not regaining No 1 spot
- The city’s second-ever Olympic gold medallist drops to No 6 in the world rankings, having been top of the pile earlier in the year
- Cheung suffered upset in season’s first World Cup, but can make amends in the second, in Tokyo, and in Hong Kong Open Championships
Hong Kong fencer Cheung Ka-long should focus on podiums rather than rankings as he targets a fourth title at his domestic championships and a Tokyo World Cup medal in the next fortnight, his coach has said.
The city’s top foilist was on the wrong end of an upset at the season-opening World Cup in Germany this month, losing in the first round to unheralded South Korean Kim Gyeongmu, and fell four places to No 6 in the latest rankings.
He had already lost the top spot, to Tommaso Marini, after the season-ending World Championships in July, and the Italian held on to it in the latest list, followed by compatriot Alessio Foconi and France’s world champion Enzo Lefort. Hong Kong No 2 Ryan Choi Chun-yin fell one place to No 9 after finishing 11th at the World Cup in Bonn.
However, Hong Kong head coach Zheng Zhaokang said he was concerned primarily with winning medals.
“World ranking isn’t as important to us as medals – a world No 1 can be defeated in the first round,” Zheng said. “What exactly is the point? I will not put any pressure on them to be at the top of the rankings.”
“It’s very normal to have some upsets at the start of the season, especially since Ka-long was sick before Bonn and was unable to train for 10 days,” Zheng added.
“I’m confident Ka-long will quickly pick up his form and be ready for the competitions in the coming weeks.”
The Hong Kong Open Fencing Championships are coming up at the AsiaWorld-Expo on December 3 and 4, with Olympic gold medallist Cheung vying for his fourth consecutive crown.
Cheung, 25, then has a chance to end 2022 on a high note at the second World Cup of the season, in Tokyo on December 9-11. He has already recorded a landmark World Cup success this year by taking Hong Kong’s first men’s title, in the individual foil in Paris in January.
Vivian Kong man-wai – the first Hongkonger to win a World Cup when she did so in Cuba three years ago – was listed at seventh in the new women’s épée world rankings.
She dropped a place from the previous rankings after reaching the quarter-finals of this month’s World Cup event in Tallinn, Estonia, while Sera Song and Choi Injeong, both from South Korea, swapped places, with Sera taking over from her compatriot at No 1.
Veteran foilist Cheung Siu-lun is set to make his comeback from injury at the Hong Kong Open and the Tokyo World Cup. Cheung, who ruptured an Achilles tendon in May during the Grand Prix in Incheon, South Korea, has tumbled down the world rankings to No 144.