Fencing: Fencer Lim Wei Wen taking a break

Lim Wei Wen kissing his historic bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014. Hampered by tennis elbow, he says he will "take a step back, slow down and see what I really want".
Lim Wei Wen kissing his historic bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014. Hampered by tennis elbow, he says he will "take a step back, slow down and see what I really want".ST FILE PHOTO

Impeded by injury, he seeks family time even as he still harbours dream of SEA Games gold

Singapore's top epee fencer Lim Wei Wen is at a crossroads, mulling the next step of his sporting career while recovering from injury.

Tennis elbow in his right arm has ruled him out of training and competitions for at least the next month.

But Lim, who won the country's first Asian Games fencing medal (an individual epee bronze) at the 2014 edition in Incheon, will not be fencing competitively in the immediate future either.

Being unable to grip his weapon properly or do push-ups has left him "really demoralised" but injury aside, there are personal matters that the 32-year-old wants to attend to as well.

"My grandparents are old. They've raised me since I was young and my grandfather is not in good condition, so I want to spend quality time with my family and loved ones," he told The Straits Times, adding that Fencing Singapore has been supportive of his decision.

He also has three SEA Games silver medals - one from his 2007 debut in Thailand and two from 2015 - but lost in the quarter-finals at the August Games.

Disappointed by his results in Kuala Lumpur, Lim added: "I was injured, yes, but that's no excuse. I lost the motivation to keep fighting and if I continue, I might burn out. I believe everything happens for a reason, and with my injury I thought maybe I should take a step back, slow down and see what I really want."

In addition to spending time with his grandparents, Lim intends to take a break from fencing competitively to focus on his career as a personal trainer and do some coaching to raise the profile of the sport.

"I don't see it as quitting because I'm still in this community, but my battle is different," he said. "I'll be competing in another way, hopefully by training someone to replace me - it's a different battle.

"My dream is to go to the Olympics and if I can't, I should share the knowledge and experience that I have with someone else to help them achieve it."

Still, he does not rule out the possibility of a comeback, as he will always have a "soft spot" for competing in Singapore colours.

"I haven't won a SEA Games gold and we have a good chance of (winning) gold for all weapons at the next Games, so that might push me to come back," he added.

His only regret throughout his 12-year career, however, is the time that he has let pass.

"During my sports career, I was too focused on winning a medal for Singapore but I took those who love and care for me for granted. I didn't spend too much time with my ex-coach (the late Alexey Karpov) and my grandparents - when my grandma suffered a stroke (in 2012), I was training in Germany," said Lim.

"I can continue, I can still train and try to win medals, but time and the people you love won't wait for you. Anything can happen in the next second or minute, and I want to look at the bigger picture and treasure everything that I have."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2017, with the headline 'Fencer's hiatus to bring focus'. Print Edition | Subscribe