Fencing: Food to the fore for fencer

Denyse Chan’s first thought after winning the women’s foil title on the Hong Kong Asian Cadet Circuit on Monday was that she could finally have dinner.

Laughing as she recalled spending over 12 hours in the competition hall, the 15-year-old Singaporean told The Straits Times yesterday: “I was really happy but I was also just (relieved) it was over, because it was a really long competition and long process.”

She came from behind to beat Hong Kong’s Janelle Leung 15-11 in the semi-finals, then rode that wave of confidence to defeat the latter’s compatriot Daphne Chan 15-2 to win the foil title in the Under-17 category.

Singapore also returned with two silvers (Jonathan Lim in the men’s foil and Simon Lee in the men’s epee) and two bronzes (Rachel Lim and Max Neo in the women’s and men’s foil).

Over 200 athletes from more than 10 countries featured in the Dec 3-4 competition.

Trailing 4-8 in the semi-final, Denyse levelled the score only for her opponent to take the lead again. The Singaporean then found herself down 8-11, and dug deep to reach the final.

Explaining how she wore Janelle down despite having never fenced against the Hong Konger before, Denyse said: “After each point, whether it was a point (awarded) to her or to me, I would take a walk to the side so I could think about what I wanted to do before the bout started again.

“I didn’t want to rush the attack and end up getting counter-attacked. By taking it slow, I think she also got a bit worn out.

“I just kept my spirits up and told myself to keep fighting, that this isn’t the end… as I slowly started to catch up, she also started to get frustrated and that made the difference.”

Though she had beaten Daphne on the two occasions that they had met, Denyse did not feel she had an easier job in the final as the score for both those instances was 15-14.

But triumphing in the tricky semi-final, which she described as “a bit more stressful”, gave the Raffles Girls’ School student an extra shot of confidence.

“I was kind of feeding off the confidence from (winning) my semi-final bout, and I was telling myself that I’ve got this,” said Denyse, who celebrated with a dinner of fried rice and chicken.

The teenager arrived home yesterday, and will resume training today in preparation for next month’s women’s foil Junior World Cup in Zagreb.

She hopes to qualify for next year’s Asian Fencing Championships, for which she feels her victory in Hong Kong has given her an idea of what to expect.

“Generally speaking, athletes from the same nation have similar fencing styles,” she said.

“(This win) will also get me ranking points for the Asian Cadet rankings, which will help in seeding for future tournaments.”

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