Ota repeats 2009 victory

Yuki Ota has another shot at winning gold, in the team event, in Singapore before he focuses on the World Championships in Moscow.
Yuki Ota has another shot at winning gold, in the team event, in Singapore before he focuses on the World Championships in Moscow.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Japanese wins foil, Xu bags women's epee but Koreans yet to earn a title

SINGAPORE has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Japanese fencer Yuki Ota.

In 2003, as a high-school student, he captured the Fencing Singapore International title, one of his first few overseas crowns.

More than a decade later, he will again leave the Republic with another memorable victory.

  • Asian Fencing Championships

  • YESTERDAY

    Men's foil

    Final: Yuki Ota (Jpn) bt Son Young Ki (Kor) 15-12

    Women's epee

    Final: Xu Anqi (Chn) bt Choi In Jeong (Kor) 15-13

    TODAY (selected names)

    Men's sabre
    9.30am (poules): World No. 1 Gu Bon-Gil (Kor), No. 4 Kim Jung Hwan (Kor), No. 16 Won Woo Young (Kor), No. 21 Mojtaba Abedini (Ira), Choy Yu Yong (Sin), David Chan (Sin), Tseng Lin Fang (Sin), Clive Leu (Sin).
    T64-T8: 11am
    Finals: 6 to 7.20pm

    Final timings subject to delays

    Women's foil

    11.30am (poules): World No. 8 Jeon Hee Sook (Kor), No. 14 Le Huilin (Chn), No. 15 Kim Mina (Kor), No. 16 Nam Hyun Hee (Kor), Wang Wenying (Sin), Cheryl Wong (Sin), Nicole Wong (Sin), Aarya Berthier (Sin).
    T64-T8: 2pm
    Finals: 6.30 to 7.40pm

  • TICKETS

    June 25-30,

    OCBC Arena Hall 1

    Tickets ($30 each) will be sold on site. Passion-card holders enjoy a 30 per cent discount.

The 29-year-old second seed defeated South Korean Son Young Ko 15-12 yesterday to claim the individual foil crown at the Asian Fencing Championships.

It marked the first time since 2009 - when Ota triumphed in Doha - that South Korea and China have failed to win this event.

The 1.71m-tall Ota had suffered a shock loss to world No. 145 Dimitriy Kulakov of Kazakhstan in the poules stage. It meant a last-16 meeting with last year's runner-up and 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist Chen Haiwei, which he prevailed.

Said Ota: "What a tough tournament it's been for me and such a long wait to win my second Asian title. It definitely means a lot more to me the second time."

The two-time Olympic silver medallist (individual in 2008 and team in 2012) started slowly and allowed the 1.84m-tall Son, who used his height to his advantage, to race to a 4-0 lead.

But Ota, a former world No. 1, showed his experience and guile with some deft footwork and a change of strategy.

By the end of the first three-minute game, Son only held a slight advantage at 8-6.

Ota scored the next two points to draw level and took the lead for the first time at 11-10 midway through the second game.

One more red light in his favour and he ripped off his mask and pointed to his jubilant team-mates in the stands at the OCBC Arena Hall 1 before they rushed down en mass to celebrate Japan's first gold at this meet.

He said: "I was too aggressive at the start and Son kept scoring. I knew I had to be patient and tried to be more defensive and let him start the attacks while I waited for my chance."

A second opportunity for gold awaits in Monday's team event - the last time Japan triumphed in this category was also in 2009 - and this will be Ota's sole focus before he turns his attention to next month's World Championships in Moscow.

In the women's epee final which saw the past two champions face off, 2013 winner Xu Anqi of China beat Korean defending champion Choi In Jeong 15-13 to clinch China's third gold of the six-day competition.

Said Xu, 23, and part of her country's winning epee team at the 2012 London Olympics: "I was more relaxed in the final and my strokes were more fluid and sharper. We won the team gold in London and now I want to make the breakthrough in the individual event next year in Rio."

None of Singapore's male fencer made it past the last 32, while Cheryl Lim was the country's best performer with a top-16 finish after losing 4-15 to Xu.

jonwong@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2015, with the headline 'OTA REPEATS 2009 VICTORY'. Print Edition | Subscribe