Shout of confidence lands shock silver

Simon Lee with coach Shim Jae-sung after a superb run to the final, in which he lost to Japanese ninth seed Ryu Matsumoto. The 16-year-old fencer had upset three top-10 seeds in the earlier rounds.
Simon Lee with coach Shim Jae-sung after a superb run to the final, in which he lost to Japanese ninth seed Ryu Matsumoto. The 16-year-old fencer had upset three top-10 seeds in the earlier rounds.PHOTO: FENCING SINGAPORE

National youth fencer Simon Lee toppled three top-10 seeds en route to a silver medal in the cadet men's epee at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championship in Amman, Jordan early yesterday morning.

The 16-year-old Singapore Sports School student, the joint-30th seed, saw off India's second seed Siva Magesh Sathasivan Nirmala 15-7 in the round of 32, before also scalping Chinese No. 7 Zhang Xinkun (15-7) in the quarter-final, and Japanese No. 6 Seiya Asami (15-13) in the semi-final.

But Simon could not repeat his giant-killing feat one more time in the final, where he fell 15-13 to Japanese ninth seed Ryu Matsumoto.

He also beat lower-ranked opponents Ahmed Aldarbi of Saudi Arabia (15-2) in the round of 64, and South Korean Lee Min-gu (15-7) in the round of 16.

The Singaporean told The Straits Times that one small trick in his first match helped him put on the remarkable run: He shouted all his anxiety away.

"Coach Shim (Jae-sung) told me to shout in my first bout, and this helped boost my self-confidence and helped me fence much better in the following bouts," said Simon.

"This gave me the stamina to concentrate and plan for the bouts."

While he was proud of his overall run to the final, he singled out his round-of-32 bout with Siva as his best performance.

"I thought each match was tough and very close," he said. "But I think I performed best in the (round of 32) as I managed to upset my opponent which I thought was going to be very hard to do.

"I managed that bout really well and it gave me confidence for later bouts, and taught me that I could do it (compete with the best)."

Last night, Singaporean second seed Christine Tan settled for a bronze medal in the cadet women's sabre, after she lost 15-10 to Japan's third seed Seri Ozaki.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2019, with the headline 'Shout of confidence lands shock silver'. Print Edition | Subscribe