School sports: Nervous Maxine Wong fends off pressure to win all-Raffles Institution A Division foil final

Maxine Wong (left) beat fellow Raffles Institution and national teammate Rachel Lim in the Schools National Fencing Championships A division foil event on March 28, 2019.
Maxine Wong (left) beat fellow Raffles Institution and national teammate Rachel Lim in the Schools National Fencing Championships A division foil event on March 28, 2019.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - She was part of the team who won the junior foil gold at the recent Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships in Amman, Jordan.

Yet, Raffles Institution fencer Maxine Wong felt nervous before the Schools National Fencing Championships A division foil event at the OCBC Arena on Thursday (March 28).

"I haven't fenced for a while before this (competition) so I was nervous. There was also a bit of pressure to maintain my standard because I'm part of the national team," the 18-year-old told The Straits Times.

"But I managed to calm down and start smoothly so things just built up from there."

The friendly student-athlete turned on the aggression on the piste, winning all her bouts to retain her A division title.

Maxine met fellow RI and national teammate Rachel Lim, 16, in the final and raced to a 10-2 lead at the end of the first of three rounds.

Rachel tried to fight back by scoring early in the second, but Maxine - who was fifth in the Asian Games last year - finished the final in the second round with 15-5.

"I'm very happy and thankful that I managed to perform today and especially since it's my last year, I'm very happy to have finished it with a win ," said Maxine.

While the Rafflesians had secured the top two positions before the all-RI final, Rachel said neither fencer gave any quarter in the last bout.

She said: "This is an inter-school competition so we're fencing for our school but, since we're from the same school, we were just fencing for ourselves in the finals. Maxine is a strong opponent and I tried my best against her so that's good enough for me."

Maxine's coach, Bobok Viacheslav, was happy to see her win.

"She gave me a present today because it's my birthday and she won the gold medal for me, so it's a good medal for me as a coach," he said.

He added that Maxine is preparing for the Fencing Cadet and Junior World Championships in Poland in April.

In addition to Maxine and Rachel, RI's Pyari Chopra also earned a medal in the event as she shared third place with Hwa Chong Institution's Chloe Ng.

Also, Raffles placed first and second in the A division boys' epee, and third in the A division boys' sabre on Thursday.