No happy ending for Chinese epee women
China's women's epee team suffered a shock loss yesterday on the penultimate day of the Asian Fencing Championships at the OCBC Arena.
The Chinese had won the women's epee team gold at the 2012 Olympics. Two of the four who featured in London two years ago competed last night, along with new faces Sun Yiwen and Hao Jialu, and they struggled to catch the South Koreans throughout the final.
Xu Anqi and Sun Yujie, both 23, were part of the Chinese Olympic team in 2012, and the former had won the women's individual epee gold last Friday after beating Korea's Choi In Jeong.
But it was the Korean women's turn to shine yesterday.
In the end, the Chinese fell 45-40 to the South Korean foursome of In Jeong, Kang Young Mi, Shin A Lam and Choi Eun Sook.
"China were probably feeling stressed about having to win, because they were the defending champions," Korean women's epee coach Shim Jae Sung said.
"So perhaps we had the mental advantage, because we weren't facing as much pressure.
"We were a little surprised that we won, but we did fight well, even though China could have done better today."
China's coach, Xu Xuening, admitted the Koreans were better yesterday.
"The Koreans were visibly more relaxed than we were, and they fared really well," he said.
"We were lagging behind right from the start and found it difficult to keep up with them."
China's men's foil team made up for their women's loss by trouncing the Koreans in their final.
The Chinese team, who included 2012 individual Olympic champion Lei Sheng, whipped the Koreans 45-31 to retain their title.
Lei, 31, said afterwards that he was proud of the team's performance.
"I got tired towards the end, so did not fight as well as I should have," he admitted.
"But I am happy with today's win, because it means we have a higher chance of qualifying for next year's Olympics."
Both countries will go on to compete at the World Championships in Moscow next month, and China are anticipating an even tougher challenge from the Koreans.
"They have improved a lot really quickly in recent years," Xu said.
"We will have to train harder to prepare ourselves for more battles against them.
"The competition is getting more and more challenging and we must be ready."