Brazilian fencer rides raucous wave of home support to knock out Hong Kong’s Cheung Ka-long in last-16
HK’s Asian champion beaten in deafening conditions in men’s foil while China’s flagbearer and Olympic champion is stunned early
Hong Kong’s Edgar Cheung Ka-long might need a visit to the ear specialist after a deafening encounter against Brazil’s Guilherme Toldo saw his Olympic campaign in the men’s foil end in the last-16.
The Carioca Arena was literally shaking as home fans roared their approval for every touch of Toldo’s, booed every point scored by Cheung, and maintained an atmosphere more akin to a World Cup final than any early-round fencing bout.
HK won their first-ever Olympics fencing bout on day one courtesy of Vivian Kong Man-wai, and Cheung made it two in a row as day two began, comfortably beating Heo Jun of South Korea 15-8.
WATCH: Relive the action involving Hong Kong athletes on Day 2 at the Rio Olympics
Toldo had upset the top seed and world champion Yuki Ota of Japan in the first round. In any other location, he might have been the ideal opponent, but Cheung admitted he found it almost impossible to concentrate amid the maelstrom of noise. Toldo said he’d never experienced anything like it.
“A lot pressure, facing those fans,” said Cheung. “I really didn't fence well in the middle of the bout, when I had an 8-5 lead.”
Cheung had appeared to be fairly comfortable at that point, having succeeded in dampening the crowd’s fervour.
But as Toldo reeled off three points in a row to level, they reached new cacophonous heights.
The first round finished 9-9, and when Toldo took three early points in the third, you hoped no shortcuts had been taken in the construction of the rocking Arena.
The referee had to stop the bout several times to wait for the decibel levels to sink a little, with even Toldo appearing frustrated.
“It was a big problem, it was so loud we couldn’t hear the referee at all,” added Cheung.
At 10-13 down, he lost two points on calls from the referee, who judged he’d been forced off the piste for 10-14 and then awarded Toldo the winning touch on a double hit.
Asian champion Cheung is just 19, however, and will surely be back for Tokyo 2020. He said he was nervous making his debut, but it didn’t show in his first match.
“I’m so excited it’s the first time I’ve been on this stage as a fencer,” he said after beating Hun.
“In the beginning I’m a bit nervous because it was the first match and first Olympics but my coach told me to relax and I did.”
WATCH: Golden moments on Day 1 at Rio Olympics
Earlier in the day, China’s Lei Sheng, 2012 gold medallist, was stunned by unheralded Frenchman Erwan Le Pechoux.
It continued an embarrassing start to these Games for China, who saw reigning Olympic champions Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen in swimming and Yi Siling in shooting all dethroned on day one.
Lei is now left to concentrate on the team event.
“Today my opponent was pretty strong, and at the beginning I had big troubles,” he said.
“I tried my best to get some points, at one point I was two points down but I didn’t grab this opportunity and after I lost.
I hope that in the team event I can fully prepare and get a good event.”