Fencing: Senft gets winning send-off with Singapore team's bronze medal

(From left) Darren Tan, Yeo Jing Zhe, national foil coach Simon Senft, Jonathan Au Eong and Kieren Lock.
(From left) Darren Tan, Yeo Jing Zhe, national foil coach Simon Senft, Jonathan Au Eong and Kieren Lock. PHOTO COURTESY OF HELEN TSAI

National foil head coach Simon Senft will leave his post at the end of the year.

The German is on course to leave his job on a high after the Singapore men's cadet team won its first European Cadet Circuit team medal in Halle on Sunday.

The quartet of Darren Tan, Yeo Jing Zhe, Jonathan Au Eong and Kieren Lock beat Russia 45-39 in the bronze-medal match.

Senft told The Straits Times: "(The boys) fenced well the whole day and did a great job.

"It also means a lot to me because I will leave Fencing Singapore at the end of the year, so this achievement is something special."

The 34-year-old will leave fencing's national governing body following the expiry of his four-year contract at the end of the month.

Said Senft, who plans to start his own club here: "I had the opportunity to be national coach for four years and it was a good time - we had a lot of success, including three SEA Games gold medals in the foil event.

"It's been a good experience for me and I have no regrets; I think Fencing Singapore is moving in the right direction in improving the level of fencing and I wish them all the best."

The association's general manager Chong Yi Mei said: "Fencing Singapore is preparing to launch an Olympic Pathway Programme for the foil weapon group in the first half of 2017.

"We are in the process of finalising our plans and shortlisting a National Programme Coach (Olympic Pathway).

"Coach Simon will complete his existing contract with Fencing Singapore at the end of December 2016.

"He, together with all our national partner coaches, have assisted the association in bringing the overall standard of foil to the next level and our fencers have achieved many breakthroughs over the past four years.

"We wish coach Simon all the best in his future endeavours."

Senft believes that Singapore's young fencers have a good chance of winning more medals at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships in Thailand in February, "if they perform like they did this weekend".

The former Olympian added: "Hopefully, their milestone win will also give the younger fencers some motivation after seeing that we can win at international events, and not just regionally."

For 16-year-old Jonathan, Sunday's bronze-medal win provided a welcome boost in confidence for the Raffles Institution student as he prepares for his next meet. The Eden Cup, also the Junior Men's Foil World Cup, begins in London on Friday.

"As a team, we were confident in our ability but at the same time we knew there were many strong teams in the competition, so we just had to try our best," he said.

"(The win) shows that on the world stage, Singapore is not far behind our European counterparts."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Senft gets winning send-off with S'pore team's bronze medal'. Print Edition | Subscribe