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Riding hot streak, S. Korea eyes 8 gold medals in fencing at Asian Games

All Headlines 16:40 August 06, 2018

By Yoo Jee-ho

JINCHEON, South Korea, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- Riding high from a record-setting performance at the recent world championships, South Korean fencing is eyeing a hefty medal haul at the Asian Games later this month in Indonesia.

Head coach Yang Dal-sik said Monday he believes his athletes can grab up to eight gold medals out of 12 disciplines in fencing at the Aug. 18-Sept. 2 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

The fencing events are the team and individual epee, foil and sabre for both men and women.

Members of the South Korean men's and women's fencing teams pose for photos during the media day event at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, on Aug. 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

"If anything, I am worried that our confidence may be running a bit too high," Yang told reporters during the national team media day at the Jincheon Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul. "As long as these fencers do what they're capable of, I think we can meet our goal."

Yang and his charge have plenty of reason for optimism. At the world championships in Wuxi, China, last month, South Korea had its best-ever showing by finishing second overall behind Italy with two gold, two silver and three bronze medals. Italy and South Korea had the same number of total medals, but Italy claimed two more gold medals.

South Korea won the men's team sabre gold medal for the second straight world championships, and Kim Jung-hwan grabbed the men's individual sabre title while teammate Kim Jun-ho added bronze.

The men's epee team, featuring the 2016 Olympic individual epee champion Park Sang-young, won silver at the worlds. Heo Jun picked up bronze in the men's individual foil.

In the women's events, the epee team won silver and the sabre team got bronze.

South Korea was the only country to reach at least the semifinals in every team event at the worlds. In the current world rankings, South Korea is in top five in every discipline. The men's sabre and men's epee teams are both ranked No. 1, and the women's epee team is No. 2.

If South Korea wins eight gold medals in Indonesia, it would match the total from the previous Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. Those eight gold medals on home soil put South Korea at the top of the fencing medal table.

From left: South Korean sabre fencers Kim Jun-ho, Gu Bon-gil, Kim Jung-hwan and Oh Sang-uk pose for photos during the media day event at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, on Aug. 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

South Korea also led all nations in fencing gold medals with seven in Guangzhou, China, in 2010.

Yang attributed the rise of South Korean fencing to increased exposure to tough competitions.

"We've been getting into about 10 international events each year, and gaining experience that way has been really crucial," Yang said. "We couldn't have improved if we had been just competing at domestic events."

Yang said he was most confident in the men's sabre team event. The quartet will be led by Kim Jung-hwan, the reigning world individual champion and 2016 Olympic individual bronze medalist, and Gu Bon-gil, world No. 2 and 2014 Asian Games team and individual champion.

The fencing competition begins on Aug. 19, one day after the Asian Games opening ceremony. Yang said his athletes will try to set the tone for the rest of the delegation.

"On hot summer nights, we'll try to give the people something to cheer about," the coach added.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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