Fencing: Coach foils pupil's final aspirations

It was an awkward men's individual foil semi-final clash for Singapore fencer Kevin Jerrold Chan yesterday at the OCBC Arena Hall 2.

For standing between the 16-year-old and a final appearance was his coach, Thailand's Nontapat Panchan.

The 33-year-old did not show any sympathy, easily defeating the Singaporean 15-6.

He eventually won gold, beating Vietnam's Nguyen Minh Quang 15-11 in the final.

For Kevin, it was a harsh lesson learnt as he settled for bronze on his Games debut.

He said: "I think my semi-final match was my worst as I didn't dare to fence freely. I respected (Nontapat) too much, causing me to be unable to play to my own tempo through the bout.

"I think I really should have just relaxed and instead focused on fencing."

Nontapat, on the other hand, was full of praise for his young protege.

He said: "I have more experience to stay with my strategy, and while Kevin has all the talent and skill, he is a little bit young.

"I am looking forward to seeing him taking my place at the podium."

Besides Kevin's semi-final loss, Singapore clinched two more bronzes after Lau Ywen and Rania Herlina Rahardja also fell in the last four of their events.

Ywen, 15, narrowly lost 13-15 to Thailand's Sirawalai Starrat in the women's individual sabre, despite leading 12-10 at one point.

Said Singapore coach Andras Decsi: "Ywen's inexperience caused her to be unable to react in time, allowing her opponent to catch up. Even though she is disappointed, this has definitely made her stronger."

Rania, 22, lost 10-15 to the Philippines' Harlene Raguin in the women's individual epee.

Vietnam, though, continued their dominance in the women's events.

Nguyen Thi Le Dung overcame Sirawalai 15-5 for her fifth individual sabre gold in as many Games.

She said: "I am very happy that I managed to protect my title."

In the women's epee final, Tran Thi Len also cruised to victory after beating Raguin 11-7.

chongcjy@sph.com.sg

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