Olympic fencing champion Edgar Cheung has clinched a historic gold for Hong Kong at the Hangzhou Asian Games, as the city bagged a total of two gold and five bronze medals on the first day of the quadrennial event.
The 26-year-old fencer added the Asian Games title to hist list of wins on Sunday night, when he crushed Chen Haiwei of China in the men’s foil individual final by a large margin of 15-2. Cheung’s win marked the first-ever gold medal for the city’s fencing team at the largest multi-sport event in Asia.
Another Hong Kong men’s foil representative Ryan Choi earned a bronze medal after losing to Chen 9-15 in the semi-finals. Women’s epee fencer Vivian Kong, who currently ranks second in the world, also picked up a bronze medal for the city. She defeated Tankisha Khatri of India to secure a spot in the top four for a medal, but was subsequently knocked out by South Korean fencer Song Sera, 11-15.
Sunday’s victory was a milestone in his professional career, Cheung said in a Cantonese post-match interview the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China. Cheung, who won an individual bronze medal at the previous Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, said he had hoped he could “change the colour” of his medal at this year’s event.
“I’m very glad I managed to do that. This is a very important experience for me,” he said.
The foilist, hailed as a “fencing god” after he ended the city’s 25-year Olympic gold medal drought in July 2021, went on to encourage people to hold on to their dreams and called for continued support for the Hong Kong team.
“When the level of fencing in Hong Kong was not very good, we also had to work step by step, with the assistance of a very good team and coaches,” he said.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee and Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung clapped and cheered for Cheung at the arena on Sunday. They also met representatives from the fencing team and congratulated Cheung in person after the event.
“With their superb fencing skills, Cheung, Choi and Kong performed well throughout the competition. Their achievements make our high hopes come true. I am very pleased with their excellent performance, as well as their demonstration of the demeanour of great athletes. I believe all of us will share the joy,” Yeung said in an English press release.
Hong Kong scooped its first gold medal at this year’s Asian Games in the rowing event on Sunday, when Lam San-tung and Wong Wai-chun made a splash in the men’s 2,000 metre pairs final. The duo crossed the finish line in 6:44.20, beating Uzbekistan and India.
Their win marked the second Asian Games gold medal for the rowing team since 2014.
The rowing team continued its medal streak on Monday morning, when Cheung Hoi-lam and Leung King-wan came in second in the women’s pair final. The team also added a bronze from Chiu Hin-chun in the men’s single sculls final.
Another Olympic medallist and Hong Kong medal hope Siobhan Haughey picked up a bronze for the city in the women’s 50 metre breaststroke event. She set a new Hong Kong record in the finals by finishing the race in 30.36 seconds and placed third, while China’s Tang Qianting and Satomi Suzuki of Japan came first and second, respectively.
After a brief break, Haughey, who won two silvers at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, joined her teammates Tang Hoi-lam, Camille Cheng and Stephanie Au in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay event. The team finished in 3:39.10 to win bronze, as China set a new games record 3:33.96 to win the title, followed by Japan, 3:38.48.
Wushu athlete Chen Suijin won a bronze for Hong Kong in the women’s taijiquan and taijijian all-round event. She scored a total of 19.476 in the two disciplines based on the quality of management, overall performance and degree of difficulty of her routine.
Liu Xuxu won a silver medal for the wushu team in women’s changquan on Monday morning.
The city sent some 660 athletes to the Hangzhou Asian Games, which runs until October 8.
As of Monday morning, Hong Kong places fifth on the medal tally with two gold, two silver and six bronze medals. China takes the lead with 27 gold, 11 silver and five bronze medals, followed by South Korea and Japan.
Hong Kong athletes who take home medals from the Asian Games are set to be awarded with cash prizes under the Jockey Club Athlete Incentive Awards Scheme. For individual events, gold medallists will receive HK$1 million, followed by HK$500,000 for silver and HK$250,000 for bronze. A gold medal in a team event would earn the athletes HK$2 million, while the rewards for silver and bronze are HK$1 million and HK$500,000, respectively.
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