Singapore's young fencers fuelled with hope after 5th placing in Asia
The Singapore women's foil fencing team may be "one of the youngest in the world", but the group of Amita Berthier, Maxine Wong, Tatiana Wong and Denyse Chan are well on their way to success, said their coach Andrey Klyushin.
Even though Berthier, Maxine (both 18), Tatiana (20) and Denyse (15) are younger than most of their opponents, the Russian coach is optimistic about their road ahead.
Klyushin, 56, told The New Paper in a phone interview yesterday that this is a "future team", after they finished fifth at the Asian Fencing Championships in Tokyo.
This is the seventh straight year that the Singapore women's foil fencing team have finished fifth in the Asian meet, but Klyushin believes their recent showing augurs well for the future.
"We have Berthier and Maxine as our leaders with a lot of experience, and then newer, younger fencers like Denyse who is still a cadet (Under-17)," he said.
"In the top four that have South Korea and Japan, it's clear that they are stronger than everyone else.
"But I'm very confident because they are getting there.
"No medal this time, but I am looking long-term with this team."
Yesterday, they came close in the quarter-finals, where they lost to fourth-seeded Hong Kong 42-41.
In the positional play-offs, Singapore went on to beat Vietnam 45-19 and Taiwan 45-27 to finish fifth.
Berthier, junior foil world No. 2, said: "We were hoping to outdo Hong Kong but needed more confidence.
"As a relatively young team, we have done well to maintain the fifth position. We can only get better."
Denyse, who was making her debut in a senior meet, said: "The fencers I've gotten used to seeing on the screen were suddenly right in front of my eyes, and I even competed with them.
"(But) it lets us see how we stand in Asia and also at the South-east Asia Games, and gives me confidence that we'll be able to perform well then."
Their next mission will be next month's World Fencing Championships in Budapest, Hungary. During the July 15-23 meet, they will be hoping to improve on last year's showing in Wuxi, China, where they finished 16th out of 21 teams.
The team will be getting an injection of experience through veteran Tay Yu Ling.
The 32-year-old will replace Denyse, who will be having her school examinations. - ADEENA NAGIB