No medal, but fencing coach not concerned

The women's junior foil team may not have retained their silver medal after finishing sixth in the World Cadets and Juniors Fencing Championship on Thursday. But national head coach Andrey Klyushin has vowed that they will come back stronger next year and stressed there is no cause for worry.

The team comprising women's junior world No. 1 Amita Berthier, Maxine Wong, Denyse Chan and reserve Rachel Lim lost 45-32 to South Korea in the quarter-finals at the Arena Torun in Poland.

The junior men's foil team of Richard Teoh, Kieren Lock, Maximus Tio and Jonathan Lim (reserve) meanwhile, achieved their best result of eighth, which Klyushin hailed as a "big success" as the team included two cadet (Under-17) fencers (16-year-olds Jonathan and Maximus).

The junior category is an U-20 competition.

Noting that Denyse, 15, and Rachel, 16, are also still competing in the cadet category, Klyushin told The Sunday Times: "We don't need to worry about anything - we have some young girls who are on the way (to the junior level) and we still have a good pathway right now."

Singapore have won medals at the world championships for the last three years. Lau Ywen captured the cadet sabre gold in 2016, Berthier earned a cadet foil bronze in 2017, and the women's junior foil team took silver in Italy last year.

Tatiana Wong, who was part of the gold-winning team (with Amita, Maxine and Denyse) at last month's Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships, did not compete in Poland owing to exams and Klyushin also revealed that some fencers were battling illness.

He said: "We were not at 100 per cent for this tournament and that's no excuse, but sometimes these things happen. We understand how we can do better and that's the most important thing, and we can do better next year for sure because we will learn from this."

The 56 year-old remains confident Singapore are on the right track of having a women's team qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, adding that part of that plan is to build a base of eight to 10 fencers at senior level.

For Amita, who was crowned Asian junior champion last month, there were plenty of lessons.

She said: "When I'm in the competition I do the best I can... and try to beat anyone in my path. Those are my expectations going in."

The 18-year-old next competes in the June 13-18 Asian Fencing Championships in Tokyo, where she is targeting a top-16 or top-eight finish.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 14, 2019, with the headline 'No medal, but fencing coach not concerned'. Print Edition | Subscribe