Wei Wen's fencing medal a first for Singapore
He may not have won the gold medal last evening, but Singapore fencer Lim Wei Wen had arguably the best victory smile among the medallists in the men's individual epee event at the Goyang Gymnasium in Incheon, South Korea.
The 29-year-old flashed a brilliant smile and unfurled the Singapore flag before he stepped onto the podium to receive his bronze medal, Singapore's first medal at this year's Asian Games.
It was also the Republic's first-ever fencing medal at the Asiad.
"I am exhausted, but I am happy to win Singapore's first medal at this Games and my sport's first-ever Asian Games medal," the Asian Games debutant told The New Paper over the phone, hours after the medal presentation. "But I don't think I will be able to sleep tonight."
The 177th-ranked Singaporean beat higher-ranked opponents en route to a place in the last four yesterday.
Among his three victories in six Pool D bouts were a 5-4 win over Japan's world No. 37 Keisuke Sakamoto, and a 5-3 triumph over Uzbekistan's world No. 95 Kudayev Ruslan.
He then upstaged compatriot Samson Lee, ranked 74th in the world, 15-13 in the Round of 32, before beating Uzbekistan's world No. 51 Aleksandrov Roman 15-8 in the last 16.
"I just tried to be in my zone and not care about how strong or weak my opponents were," he said.
"I just took it step by step... I actually strained my neck against Samson, but I tried my best not to let it affect me."
The 1.81m fencer then set up a semi-final clash against reigning Asian champion and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Jung Jinsun, after a 15-11 victory over Hong Kong's Nicola Lu in the quarter-finals.
The Singaporean was the lowest-ranked athlete in the last four - world No. 5 Jung was the highest-ranked of the quartet, while Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Nhat (71) faced South Korea's Park Kyoung Doo (10) in the other semi-final.
The gulf in class in Lim's semi-final was immediately apparent, even though the Singaporean claimed the first points in both the two three-minute periods.
"The environment was very different from the earlier rounds, about 95 per cent of the fans were rooting for Jung, but the atmosphere was awesome," said Lim, who will also compete in the epee team event later on this Games.
Jung claimed the tie 15-6 in just under four minutes, and then clinched the gold after beating compatriot Park 15-9 in the final.
Nguyen shared the bronze medal, in the absence of a bronze-medal bout.
Beyond Incheon, Lim has set his sights for the South-east Asia Games in Singapore next year, as well as the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
He said: "I hope I will be able to bring back that atmosphere (I experienced in the semi-finals), and the whole country can be cheering for us like that during the SEA Games in Singapore next year."