“I am surprised because we thought that this would be a very tough matchup,” said Cheung Ka Long after he and his teammates dominated France in the men’s foil team final on the last day of fencing at the Chengdu FISU World University Games, Monday.
Hong Kong beat the Frenchmen by a very lopsided score of 45-33.
At one point, France even had to resort to their reserve fencer, but it did little to help. Out of nine individual matches, the Europeans only managed one win.
Cheung Ka Long (Hong Kong, China) on left, takes on Alexandre Sido (France) in the men’s team foil final in ChengduThe Asians were led by Cheung, the reigning Olympic champion in individual foil. To this day, he remains the first and only fencer from the country to win Olympic gold.
What is the motivation for an Olympic champion to compete in the FISU Games?
For the 26-year-old, he just embraced the opportunity.
“I had the chance to be a university student after Tokyo because I’m quite young, so I thought ‘why not come to enjoy the moment?’,” he said.
While he talks humbly about his Olympic title, his teammate, Aaron Lee, does not downplay it.
“Since he won it, the sport has gained a lot of popularity in Hong Kong, so now we have the resources to get stronger,” Lee said.
In Chengdu, Cheung had already topped the podium once – in individual foil – but this medal was “for sure” the most meaningful to him.
“I enjoy sharing the moment with my teammates. To achieve something together with them, it’s really special.”
Interestingly, the gold-medal matchup was built upon a long-lasting partnership. They have been practicing against each other in France for the past year.
Aaron Lee from Hong Kong, China
“I feel like I have to thank them,” said Lee.
He, however, thinks that knowing your opponent makes no difference in fencing.
“Every match is different. During the competition, they perform differently from the trainings.”
The Hongkongers also stood out for a different reason, their quietness.
If you watch a fencing match, you will hear athletes screaming their lungs out whenever they hit a successful strike. Hong Kong did not make a sound.
“I don’t need to scream because I’m already confident,” Lee said. “I feel like I can just focus on the match.”
Cheung also relies on his unwavering confidence.
“I don’t think about anything,” he said. “My mind is just ‘be a warrior, just fight’.”
The fact that there is a team backing the champion fencer up also helps.
“It’s a team competition, the pressure on the individual is not so great, so I can give my best and be bold,” Lee said.
In the other final held Monday, the French women comfortably beat the United States in the women’s team sabre final by a score of 45-34.
Written by Pedro Consoli, FISU Young Reporter