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Fencing: New chapter awaits Singapore fencer Wang Wenying

Running Absolute Fencing, which has close to 100 members including two national fencers, is keeping Wang Wenying busy.
Running Absolute Fencing, which has close to 100 members including two national fencers, is keeping Wang Wenying (left) busy.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

She plans to start family and will not defend foil title at SEA Games in KL

Another SEA Games is just months away but rather than fret about winning back-to-back gold medals, Wang Wenying is under a different type of pressure - starting a family.

The 36-year-old has been on a hiatus since last April and will not defend her individual foil title at the Kuala Lumpur Games in August.

Instead, Wang - who runs the Absolute Fencing academy, is aiming to have a baby with her husband and former national fencer Wu Jie, 35. They married in 2007. Wu is now a coach at the Singapore Sports School. 

Wang joked that her retired parents, Yiming and Liu Jianting, aged 67 and 63 respectively, have been nagging her about getting pregnant.

She said: "If I've got kids already, I would definitely continue to compete because I feel that I still can compete at the highest levels.

BABY WILL MAKE THREE

For myself, in a certain sense, my family is not yet complete.

WANG WENYING, who has been married for nearly 10 years to former national fencer Wu Jie, with whom she runs the Absolute Fencing academy.

"But I'm already well into my 30s and my parents have already been patient and supportive towards me for the past few years, when I put my priority first on competing.

"And when they compare themselves with their friends in China who have already become grandparents, they also wish that they could 'be promoted'.

"For myself, in a certain sense, my family is not yet complete."

Their family's gain is the Republic's loss. Despite her inactivity of late, Wang is still the highest ranked local foil specialist at world No. 87. Cheryl Wong is next on No. 144.

Singapore won three golds at the 2015 SEA Games on home soil, and Wang's gold was Singapore's first individual fencing title since 1989. She was also part of the victorious women's team foil quartet with Cheryl, Liane Wong and Nicole Wong.

Wang has long been a mentor and a source of inspiration, noted Liane, 22. "When the coach is not there, she's someone whom I can bounce my ideas with."

There is unlikely to be a third comeback for Wang in the sport she took up when she was 17 and won a bronze at the China National Championships in 2002.

The Shanghai native arrived in Singapore in 2003 to enrol in a hospitality and tourism management advanced diploma course at the East Asia Institute of Management.

Swords and piste were distant thoughts - she had grown weary of training - and she wanted a change.

That however, did not last long as she was roped in by then-national foil coach Wang Weimin as a sparring partner for the national team in 2003. Soon, her passion for fencing returned.

Wang received her citizenship in 2006 and was part of the women's foil team who finished fifth at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.

She became a full-time athlete in July 2014 in the hopes of qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

While she won the individual and team gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Fencing Championships, she fell short of her Olympic dream when she lost in the round of 16 of the Asia and Oceania qualifiers early last year.

After that, it was time to move on, as she said: "If I continued to stay on for another SEA Games, then I would never be able to find the right time to step down."

Besides making plans to raise a child, Wang has plenty of things to occupy herself these days.

Absolute Fencing has close to 100 members, including national fencers Victoria Ann Lim and Zhang Zhenggang, both 27.

Wang might be watching from the sidelines but is confident the future is bright for the next generation. She said: "There are many good junior fencers here and I think that they have a chance to do well at the SEA Games too, where it will be a matter of who is able to stay mentally composed and strong.

"But sometimes, when I see the young fencers compete, I miss fencing."


Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that Wang and her husband Wu Jie run Absolute Fencing academy. This is incorrect. Wang runs the academy. Wu is a coach at the Singapore Sports School. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2017, with the headline 'New chapter awaits Wang'. Print Edition | Subscribe