SINGAPORE - Singapore's young fencers recorded their best-ever performance at the Asian Juniors and Cadets Fencing Championships, after winning a total of 14 medals in this year's edition held in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia from Feb 20-29.
In the junior (Under-20) events, Kevin Chan won a silver in the men's individual foil event, while Kiria Tikanah bagged a bronze in the women's individual epee competition. The women's epee, foil and sabre teams also secured bronzes in their respective team events.
Amita Berthier struck double gold in the cadet (Under-17) events, winning in the women's individual foil and women's team foil events. The women's sabre team completed a hat-trick of gold medals for the Republic.
Lau Ywen (women's individual sabre) and the men's foil team bagged silvers, while Esther Lai (women's individual epee), Tatiana Wong (women's individual foil), Jessica Ong (women's individual sabre) and the women's epee team all won bronzes.
The three golds, three silvers and eight bronze medals won this year is an improvement on last year's tally of two golds, five silvers and six bronzes.
On the improved performance of the young fencers, Fencing Singapore's president Juliana Seow said: "We have a very good branch of cadets and juniors already breaking into the senior category. For example, Kevin Chan, who won a silver medal in the junior individual event, got a bronze at the SEA Games. Before that, the last time was in 2003.
"Schools, parents, national sports association, Singapore Sports Institute - everybody plays a part in nurturing the athletes, putting together the puzzle, now we are seeing some results of people working hard.
"We are fortunate to have talented and dedicated athletes. The cadets and juniors worked very hard.
"We moved more into sports science towards the end of last year. We had an end-of-year workshop, got together a bunch of speakers, each speaking about different things: spirit, mind, motivation, sports psychology. Sharing with the athletes what high performance is, how it is not just about talent, training very hard, and so on.
"We have also started a high-performance sub-committee to plot our way to Olympics 2020, 2024. Getting to the podium is our ultimate aim."
The athletes' performance led to Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu congratulating the athletes in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.
In the post, she said: "Congratulations to our young fencers for winning 14 medals at the 2016 Asian Juniors and Cadets Fencing Championships! They have worked very hard to raise their standards and bring glory to Singapore - well done.
"Let's continue to cheer them on as they prepare for the World Fencing Championships in April. Our Senior team are also training hard for the upcoming Rio Olympics Asian Qualifiers and the 20th Asian Fencing Championships. We wish them all the very best."