Second gold for Hong Kong

Kevin Kung

Victory in the men's foil event caps a successful Asian Youth Games outing for the city's fencing team

Kevin Kung |

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Edgar Cheung (left) in action
Foil fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long won a gold medal in men's foil on Wednesday at the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing . Edgar, 16, a Form Four student at Lam Tai Fai College, in Sha Tin, competed on the final day of fencing events at the Games.

As the silver medallist in both the cadet and junior men's foil individual events at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships in Bangkok this year, Edgar was seen by his coaches - and opponents - as a medal favourite in Nanjing.

Edgar took some time to adapt to the warm venue.

"Due to the high temperatures outside, even though the venue was totally air-conditioned, I still felt the temperature was a bit higher than other tournaments I have attended," he said.

Edgar really lived up to the high expectations. He won all his five group matches in the morning and became the top seed in the draw.

After sailing through the round of 32, he made it to the final with no trouble, conceding six points or less to his opponents in each 15-point match in the knockout stage.

"I felt that I was good enough to win a medal or even a gold medal on the day after the pool round. I expected a possible final against my teammate Ryan Choi Chun-yin, and I was sad that he narrowly lost 13-15 to China's Huang Mengkai in the quarter-final," he said.

Instead, Edgar met Japan's Toshiya Saito, the reigning bronze medallist of this year's World Junior and Cadet Championships, in the final. Edgar bagged the gold by beating him 15-6.

Edgar fell to the ground in joy, took off his mask, threw aside his weapon and shouted to celebrate his victory on the playing area, known as the piste.

"This was the first time I have played against Saito," said Edgar. "In the match, I realised that he was not as strong as I expected. But after a long day of competition, I started to tire in round two. Nonetheless I told myself to stay strong and finally I won the match."

This is his first individual Asian championship. "I won gold medals in team events at the Asian cadet and junior championships before, but I missed two individual opportunities at the tournaments because I lacked the determination to push myself beyond my limits. But I finally did it," he said.

Edgar's parents were also at the venue to watch their son bringing glory to the Hong Kong delegation. "I saw them in the spectator stand, but I haven't had a chance to talk to them yet," he said.

The night after the competition, Edgar didn't sleep and instead met up with his friends from the mainland fencing team.

"We have been good friends for years as we always meet at overseas competitions. And I wanted to make good use of the time before my departure from the athletes' village," he said.

Edgar left Nanjing and took a flight back to Hong Kong yesterday. Wasting no time, he will resume his training this afternoon.

"I will start training again and attend the age group championships on Sunday to gain local ranking points," he said.

The Hong Kong fencing team sent only four athletes to the Asian Youth Games but they won a total of three medals: one gold, one silver and one bronze.

On Tuesday, the boys' rugby team won Hong Kong's first gold in Nanjing.