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Fencing Roundup: ROK, China Dominates Pistes Again
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South Korea and China, who earned a 5-5 share of golds in the 10-gold fencing competition at 1998 Bangkok Asiad, dominated the pistes in Busan again, which saw six for hosts South Korea, five for China and one for Kazakhstan.

South Korea claimed the titles of women's individual saber, men's individual and team saber, women's individual and team epee and women's team foil, while China collected the golds of men's individual and team foil, men's individual epee, women's individual foil and women's team saber. Kazakhstan collected the championship of men's team epee.

The veterans from both China and South Korea played a key role in the fights, which indicates that experience and mental strength are still main factors in the fencing duels. Wang Haibin, 29, clinched the men's individual foil title, the first gold of the Busan Asian Games, for China and shone in the team fights, leading his team to first place.

Wang, the gold medalist of men's individual in 1998 Bangkok Asiad and the key member of the Chinese team which finished second in the Sydney Olympics, retired in 2001 and went to Nanjing University of China to learn French, the official language of fencing competitions.

"The university study did extremely good to me. It has improved my way of thinking in both fencing and life," Wang, who restepped on pistes in July 2002, said after his duels in Busan.

"The most important factor in fencing is not how fast or how strong you are. The most needed thing is timing. You should take the right move at proper time," said Wang, who has been practicing foil since the age of 12.

"To reach such a level, you have to not only practice more, but also attend high-level competitions as many as possible and often think about the mistakes you made again and again," he added.

Zhao Gang, 31, who clinched the men's individual epee gold in Busan for China, is also a veteran who has been a coach for China's Liaoning provincial team but returned to the Chinese national team this year as a fencer this year.

Kim Young-ho, 32, who became a hero of South Korea after picking the first-ever individual foil Olympic gold in Sydney, gave stable performance in his team's fights in Busan. If his archrival Wang Haibin did not appear, Kim would repeat his glory before the home crowds.

Hyun Hee, who took the women's individual epee gold for South Korea at the Lisbon World Fencing Championships in August, played extremely well in Busan, beating almost all the Chinese young talents she met in the individual and team events.

On the contrary, the young Chinese fencers obviously exposed their weak points of unstable form in Busan. Tan Xue, the definitely ace saber lady who grabbed the first-ever individual world champion for China in Lisbon, conceded her Asiad individual gold to South Korean Lee Shin-mi who stormed back from behind to beat Tan in the semifinals.

"I couldn't control myself when something unfavorable to me happened in that duel," Tan, 18, admitted after the match. "I have to accumulate experience in more tough competitions."

The Chinese women's epee team which is hopeful to get both the individual and team golds in Busan conceded the two to South Koreans in the end, which is beyond the expectation of all.

"All the four young talents are under the age of 21 and they often became quick-tempered in their duels with the experienced South Koreans who are extremely good at defense and counterattacks," Chinese epee coach Wang Hengman admitted after seeing the team silver and individual for his girls.

Chinese fencing team manager Cai Jiadong said, "Although South Korea beat us 6-5 on the gold fight, it may turn into a good thing as our young athletes who will become key members for the 2004 and2008 Olympiads see their weak points."

"South Korea has sent some fencers to Europe, the cradle of fencing, for training and competitions, which nurtured a group of world-class athletes, such as Kim Young-ho and Hyun Hee. We also learned a lot from Europe in recent years. So, there is no gap in fencing skills between the Chinese and South Korean fencers. But the duels in Busan told us that our young athletes are still lack of experience and fighting spirits especially at crucial moments." he noted.

South Korean saber man Kim Doo-hong, who hurt his left leg in the eight-set team final against China, fought to the end to keep his team's lead. Kim was held by his teammates to the clinic after the duel where everybody saw that the leg was bleeding.

Kim's spirit encouraged his teammates and moved the spectators greatly. "I hope our young fencers will learn a lot from the duels in Busan," he said.

(People's Daily October 6, 2002)

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