Olympics: Fencer Amita Berthier learns lesson after defeat on debut
She might have made a strong start to her fledgling sporting career, but Olympic debutante Amita Berthier said she was given a lesson on the importance of a fast start on the fencing piste after losing 15-4 to her friend and eventual gold medallist Lee Kiefer yesterday.
Berthier - who was the first Singaporean fencer to qualify for the Olympics, as well as the first to top the International Fencing Federation's (FIE) world junior rankings - hails from the same university, Notre Dame, as world No. 5 Kiefer, with the pair sharing the same coach, Amgad Khazbak.
When the pair spar at training, Berthier said the score tends to be closer than what transpired during the women's individual foil table-of-32 bout at Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba City, Japan.
The world No. 60 scored the first point and was within a point of the 27-year-old at 3-2 down, before the American rattled off the next eight points.
Berthier, 20, told The New Paper: "What I took away from this competition was also that I need to start strong and just never to give up, not that I did, but I just saw how strong she was in the beginning and she knew what she wanted...
"The ideas of the actions that I wanted to do was good, I think what I need to work on was probably my execution... That's more of a tactical thing."
Berthier admitted initially feeling "a bit disappointed" that her Olympic debut lasted only one bout, but that dissipated as she watched her friend and conqueror go on to beat world No. 1 Inna Deriglazova 15-13 in the final. She said: "It's very inspiring to see because this is her third Olympics and the first time she's ever medalled individually.
"So it was definitely really good for me to experience it, especially being the one having to fence her. It was a very unfortunate draw but, you know, that's the way that life goes...
"There were also so many upsets that happened, so it just shows that during the Games, anything's possible. And I'm definitely motivated after watching the competition... and looking forward to progressing and becoming better in the future."
The Republic's other fencer at Tokyo 2020, Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman, also saw her vanquisher reach the final.
She lost 15-10 to World No. 1 Ana Maria Popescu in the table of 32 on Saturday. The Romanian ended up with her second straight Olympic silver in the women's individual epee, after losing 11-10 to China's Sun Yiwen. - DILENJIT SINGH