National sabre fencer Lau Ywen had to adopt a different fencing style after a serious back injury earlier this year. Yet the adjustment has been reaping quick rewards.
Yesterday, the 17-year-old followed up her SEA Games triumph in August with victory at the LCSD Open Fencing Championships in Hong Kong, beating two Asian Games medallist en route to her triumph at the Shek Kip Mei Park Sports Centre.
She told The Straits Times: "Through my physical limitation, I've expanded my repertoire in fencing. This win was a good achievement for me because I could use a different style to win."
In the semi-finals, Ywen knocked out Hong Kong's 2010 Asian Games silver medallist Au Sin Ying 15-13.
In the final, the teenager reeled off seven points in a row from 8-13 down to beat defending champion Lam Hin Wai of Hong Kong 15-13 .
Both Lam, 26, and Au, 28, were also part of the Hong Kong team who won a bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014.
Ywen's recent successes came despite her being on the comeback trail still, after suffering a stress fracture on her back at the start of the year. She had to adjust her fencing style to ensure that the injury does not flare up again.
She explained: "It's a low-tempo style and I would fence at a slower speed. That means that at the start of a point, I'm not rushing into it, I would watch and observe (my opponent) more.
"My back can't handle the high intensity like before, and sticking to my high-speed style was too big a risk, which I didn't want to take.
"I feel that I can now use both styles successfully, which is a good sign for me the more I fence at a higher level."
Despite her recent triumphs, Ywen remains cautious, and feels she needs more time on the piste to reach her top form.
She said: "I'm still not at 100 per cent. Because of the injury, my back muscles have become weak and I get more easily fatigued.
"I've got to take a lot of care in keeping my back conditioned by applying heat pads and sprays and do more stretching exercises. The more I fence, the more I will be able to build the muscles up again."
Coach David Chan added: "The fact that she could beat some of the senior Hong Kong team members who are ahead of us in the world rankings when she is still returning from injury, it is an achievement we've managed to accomplish."
Singapore's Victoria Ann Lim won the women's epee in last year's edition of the competition.
Besides Ywen, Cheryl Lim took a bronze in the women's epee on Saturday, while Maxine Wong won a women's foil silver.
Meanwhile, the Singapore trio of Jonathan Au Eong, Yeo Jing Zhe and Darren Tan, all 17, finished second in the Bangkok leg of the Junior World Cup after losing 38-45 to France in the men's team foil final. It was the Republic's first podium finish at the competition.
The Oct 7-8 tournament at the Fashion Island Shopping Centre was the second of eight stops on the Junior World Cup circuit.
Said national foil coach Andrey Klyushin: "The young boys performed well, I'm happy with the way they fenced and what they learnt from the final.
"They put up a good fight, but there was too much of a gap in the final and they lost respectably against the French team."