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Cheung Ka Long turns fencing into a phenomenon in Hong Kong

Summer Games 5 August 2023

When fencer Cheung Ka Long won Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020, he gained national hero status in his homeland of Hong Kong, China.

It also marked Hong Kong’s first triumph at the Olympic Games since 1996.

But he wasn’t fully satisfied and on Friday became the Chengdu FISU World University Games champion.

In the men’s individual foil’s final, he defeated Frenchman Pierre Loisel 15-12.

Jan Jurkiewicz (Poland)

“After the Olympics my main goal was to win the gold medal at the world championships. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, last year I got bronze and this year I was in the top eight,” said the Hong Kong Baptist University student after his final bout in Chengdu.

“That is why it I feel very excited. Since the Olympics this is one of the biggest Games that I have competed in. I am so happy to get this gold here,” he added.

Although the bout against Loisel provided spectators with exciting action, it was the semi-final that provided a special moment for Cheung when he faced his compatriot Choi Chuj Yin Ryan.

“Even if he is an Olympic champion and my teammate, my mindset today was to win. When we practice together, sometimes I win, sometimes he wins. He is the kind of opponent who can still beat me even if I give my best,” said Choi.

Cheung’s gold in Chengdu is another milestone for fencing in Hong Kong. And it is also another chapter of the “Cheung Ka Long effect”, a term that now has its own sub-section on Wikipedia.

After the Hongkonger’s triumph in Tokyo, fencing met its boom in his homeland. Parents started to sign up their children to local academies. Within days of his Olympic performance, some facilities experienced tremendous growth with dozens of new members.

“I am so glad to be the one that can get everyone into fencing. It is not a very popular sport like basketball or football. I am very delighted that I can try to change it and get people involved in fencing,” said the new FISU champion.

Cheung’s victory isn’t the only inspiring story from Friday evening.

Apart from Choi’s, the second men’s foil bronze medal was given to Jan Jurkiewicz. The Pole, who entered the competition 158th in the International Fencing Federation rankings, had reached the semis for the first time in his career.

Shao Yaqi (China) in women’s individual sabre

“This medal didn’t surprise me but I know that fencing experts didn’t expect me to reach the top four,” said Jurkiewicz.

Whereas men competed in foil competition, women fought in sabre. To the astonishment of the local fans, the winner was China’s own Shao Yaqi from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, who beat 15-10 Korean Choi Jiyoung.

The podium was completed with two French fencers: Malina Vongsavady and Sarah Noutcha.

Written by Piotrek Przyborowski, FISU Young Reporter