Olympic Fencers Look to Win Medals After Overcoming COVID

  • By Kim Sang-yun

    July 22, 2021 10:20

    Korean fencers may be among the first athletes to take home gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, which open on Friday.

    Oh Sang-uk, the world No. 1 in men's sabre, and Choi In-jeong, the world No. 2 in women's épée, will compete in their individual events on Saturday.

    The Korean men's sabre and women's épée teams held a closed two-hour training session in Chiba Prefecture outside Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon.

    Both Oh and Choi's preparations for the Olympics were seriously disrupted by COVID-19, but they overcame the challenges by staying positive.

    Oh Sang-uk (left) and Choi In-jeong

    Last year, all three of Choi's épée teammates caught the disease during overseas training. Although she was lucky enough not to get it herself, one of the teammates ended up retiring, dampening the team's spirits.

    "I try to put difficult events behind me quickly. Whenever I encounter hardships, I tell myself, 'This will soon pass,'" said Choi, who won the individual women's épée at the International Fencing Federation's World Cup in Kazan, Russia, in March. "I am determined that, through strong teamwork, we will see our national anthem play in Tokyo," she said.

    Oh caught COVID-19 after winning the individual men's sabre at the FIE Sabre World Cup in Budapest, Hungary, in March, but remained positive throughout his recovery period. National team coach Kim Hyung-yeol said, "The team's atmosphere brightened and its confidence rose as Oh recovered and regained his form."

    The Korean fencing team will compete until Aug. 1, and hopes to surpass their record medal haul set in London in 2012, when they took home two gold, one silver and three bronze medals.

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