Fencer Amita Berthier overcomes ankle sprain to retain foil title
A left-ankle sprain threatened to derail Amita Berthier's campaign in the SEA Games women's individual foil event yesterday.
But the 18-year-old did not let the pain stop her from beating compatriot Maxine Wong 15-10 to retain the gold she won in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.
Wong, also 18, had led 3-1 and then 10-9, before Berthier called for the doctor to attend to her left ankle, which she had sprained during the warm-up.
After treatment, the former world junior No. 1 took six consecutive points to turn defeat into victory at the World Trade Center in Manila.
"When I was trailing, I decided to be more defensive", the US-based fencer said in a phone interview with The New Paper.
"Coming in, my aim was to win the gold. I wasn't going to let my ankle sprain stop me."
The win was bittersweet for Berthier, as she had to face Wong in the final. "Of course it's always tough to compete against Maxine, but there's no better time to bring (out) my best but the final," she said.
Wong proved to be a worthy opponent. The Raffles Institution student's journey to the final was marred by a knee injury at this year's World Championships.
She overcame the odds by recovering from surgery less than four months ago to make the team to the Philippines.
"Getting past my injury was tough, but I had a lot of love and support from my family and coaches," she said.
"I'm really glad that I medalled; my determination helped me make it to the final."
Coach Marko Milic was overjoyed with the girls' performances.
"Both girls exceeded my expectations. I'm really proud of them," he said. "For Amita to (retain) her gold, and for Maxine to recover from surgery...
"It's been a long journey. But it's definitely worth it."