Singapore fencers win men’s foil team title, ending SEA Games campaign with best showing of 6 golds
HANOI: The spirit of a champion, but the mentality of an underdog.
This was how the Singapore men’s foil team of Jonathan Au Eong, Matthew Lim, Kieren Lock and Joel Chiu decided they would approach their 31st SEA Games team campaign.
As a completely new quartet from the one that won gold in the last edition of the Games, they were single-minded in their quest to retain the crown.
"We always talked about how amazing it would be for us to win gold. But all of us really came together to say let's not let this overwhelm us," said debutant Au Eong. "Let's have the spirit of a champion, but the mentality of an underdog."
And they did just that on Wednesday (May 18), beating Malaysia 45-28 to take the gold medal.
This meant that Singapore's fencers finished with a total of six golds, four silvers and five bronzes at the Games, their best showing ever at the regional competition.
This surpasses the four golds, three silvers and six bronzes won at the 2019 edition of the Games in the Philippines.
On Tuesday, the men’s epee team had edged out Vietnam 37-36 to win gold, Singapore’s first-ever in the event. In the individual events, Au Eong also won took the men’s foil title.
Meanwhile, the women’s sabre team of Jessica Ong, Nicole Wee and Lee Kar Moon fought valiantly on Wednesday but lost 39-45 to home favourites Vietnam.
A fourth team member Jolie Lee sustained a serious injury in the semi-final clash with Thailand and was unable to compete in the final.
Singapore's female fencers had picked up the epee and foil team titles earlier in the competition. Fourteen-year-old Elle Koh also won an individual epee gold.
Speaking to reporters, Fencing Singapore technical director Marko Milic noted that the success came with "a lot of team effort". He also paid tribute to the coaches and noted how more than half of the team were debutants.
"This shows the strength of development in Singapore. I am absolutely happy with this result," he said.
Milic noted that the next step will be to compete with the top nations in the sport such as China, Japan and South Korea at the Asian level. And with the ecosystem and support for fencing locally, Singapore is on track, he said.
"I can promise you it's going to be better in the future. We are not going to stop here," he added.