Olympic fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long believes Hong Kong will be able to match regional powerhouses China, South Korea and Japan and vie for gold in the men’s foil team event at next year’s Asian Championships, which the city will host.
Cheung said Hong Kong are likely to assemble their strongest men’s foil team – good enough to repel the challenge of the traditional Asian giants this time around.
“We have been bringing home bronze medals in the past in this event but we definitely have a chance of winning top prize this time,” said the talented 19-year-old fencer, who reached the last 16 at the Rio Olympics in individual foil and is the reigning Asian individual foil champion.
“In addition, Hong Kong will be hosting the event for the first time and it will provide us local fencers with a big boost as we will compete in front of our home fans.
“The team event provides a great atmosphere for both fencers and the crowd and all team members are eager to perform on the big stage.”
Veteran fencer Cheung Siu-lun, Yeung Chi-ka and Nicholas Chui, who recently steered the Hong Kong team to a gold medal at the Asian Under-23 Championships, are all likely members of the squad. Chui, who also represented Hong Kong at the London Olympic Games, secured 14 points in the last bout to help Hong Kong come from behind and beat South Korea 43-42 in the final.
Hong Kong will stage the region’s biggest competition when the 2017 Blue Cross Insurance Asian Championships take place at the Asia World-Expo from June 15-20. Organisers are expecting more than 350 fencers from over 30 countries competing in the week-long tournament.
Since winning the individual foil championship at this year’s Asian Championships in Wuxi, China, Cheung Ka-long has become a marked man. He defeated 2012 Olympic champion Lei Sheng of China and 2015 world champion Yuki Ota of Japan to claim his first regional victory.
His good form continued at the Rio Olympics when he became the first foilist from Hong Kong to reach the round of 16 at the Summer Games. Cheung belied his tender years by finishing 11th out of 120 fencers in two recent World Cup series in Japan and Egypt respectively. His current ranking has surged to a career high 15th.
“My result at the Rio Olympic Games gave me a lot of confidence as I gained more experience competing against top fencers,” said Cheung. “My previous target was to break into the top 16 in the world so that I don’t have to start from the pool stages at major events. Now I have set my sights on a top-10 position. There is always room for improvement for a young fencer like me as I work towards this target.”
Before the Asian Championships, the fencers will test their skills at the annual Hong Kong Open early next month which features 148 fencers from 15 countries. Cash awards will be given to the top four finalists of all senior events.