Fencing: Getting to the point with top coaches

China's former national men's sabre head coach Min Xinsheng (left) and former Britain head coach Andrey Klyushin have joined the national fencing set-up. They join national epee coach Fu Hao.
China's former national men's sabre head coach Min Xinsheng (left) and former Britain head coach Andrey Klyushin have joined the national fencing set-up. They join national epee coach Fu Hao.PHOTO COURTESY OF FENCING SINGAPORE

Min, Klyushin will guide Singapore's sabre and foil fencers in 2020, 2024 Olympic bids

Singapore's national fencing team has received a boost to its coaching ranks, with the former national coaches of Britain and China joining the Republic's set-up this year.

Min Xinsheng, who was head coach of China's men's sabre team for the past three years, will guide Singapore's fencers in the same weapon group.

The Republic's foil programme will be led by Andrey Klyushin, who used to be the head coach of British Fencing, where he was in charge of the senior men's foil programme for the past three years.

The duo were roped in by Fencing Singapore in the hopes of Singapore being represented in the sport at the Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024. They join national epee coach Fu Hao, who has held his post since 2014.

Klyushin, who previously coached in Denmark and his native Russia, told The Straits Times: "It's interesting for me to work with new fencers in a new country.

"I've never been to Singapore... I've worked in Europe my whole life, and I feel this challenge will be good for me."


There's no short cut... after putting in the time, you must fine-tune your training method and find the most efficient way to improve your technique.

MIN XINSHENG, Singapore sabre coach, on why the Republic's fencers are at a disadvantage compared to their Asian counterparts as the latter train full-time.

The 54-year-old arrived last month and a week he later flew to Thailand to watch Singapore's fencers compete at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships, which concluded on Sunday.

Based on his observations there, he believes Singapore's fencing coaches have "gone in the right way so far". He acknowledged the "big difference" between the cadet (under-17) and senior levels, but added he hopes he can do his bit to help Singapore fencing attain Olympic representation.

"Whether it takes eight years or 25 years, you never know. I've helped fencers from different countries qualify for the Olympics and I think it's not important where you are - each country has a different environment and different level of funding, but the steps needed to become professional are still the same," said Klyushin, who guided Britain's Richard Kruse to a fourth-place finish at the men's individual foil event in Rio last year.

He also coached Russian fencer Aleksandr Lakatosh, who competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Austria's Roland Schlosser, who qualified for the 2008 and 2012 editions under his tutelage.

Klyushin added: "I just need some time to better understand the level of fencing and the club infrastructure here, and then work with the fencers and other coaches to create a programme to achieve our goals."

While he is still adapting to his first long-term stint here, his sabre counterpart Min, on the other hand, is no stranger to the country.

The 60-year-old lived in Singapore from 2004 to 2012 while his daughter was studying here. During that time, he was sabre head coach at local fencing academy Z Fencing.

Min, who assumed his position as national sabre coach in January, is heartened with the way the sport has developed in Singapore since his last stint here.

"Fencing Singapore has done a good job of promoting the sport here, and I feel the standard is a lot higher than the last time," he said.

"It can only get better from here."

Under his charge, China's men sabre fencers have tasted medal success at the Asian level, bagging a bronze each at the individual and team sabre events at the last edition of the Asian Games in 2014. At last year's Asian Fencing Championships on home soil, China won an individual sabre bronze and a silver in the team event. The country was also represented by 13 fencers at last year's Olympic Games.

Min admitted that fielding a Singaporean fencer at the Olympics would be an uphill task as locals do not train as often as their Asian competitors, who do so full-time.

And it is a task he intends to tackle one step at a time, starting with gunning for gold at the Aug 19-31 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, and a podium finish at next year's Asian Games in Indonesia.

Singapore's sabre fencers won one silver and three bronzes at the 2015 SEA Games hosted here.

"As for the Olympics, we'll see if we can field a fencer for an individual event," he added.

"No matter whether they are male or female, that's one of our goals - to have a Singaporean fencer qualify for the Olympic Games."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Getting to the point with top coaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe