“Gu Bongil, build up your man sabre pride”
Fencing has always been a medal favorite at the Asian Games and the Olympics. South Korea has consistently ranked in the top three at world championships and has dominated the medal count at the Asian Games.
However, the fencing program’s recent lack of individual podium finishes at international tournaments has threatened its top Asian status. The likes of men’s sabre standout Koo Bon-gil and women’s epee fencer Kang Young-mi will be looking to redeem themselves as Asia’s strongest nation.
South Korea did not lose the overall title at any of the 12 Asian Championships between 2009 and last year. This year, however, it finished second with three gold, five silver and four bronze medals, behind Japan (gold-4-silver-1-bronze).
At the World Championships last month, the team failed to finish outside the “top three” in individual events. They finished seventh with one silver (men’s sabre team event) and two bronze (women’s epee team event and women’s sabre team event). It’s a disappointing performance considering South Korea has been in the top three ever since they first placed third in 2017.
The Hangzhou Asian Games is a chance to make up for lost ground. Leading the rebound will be men’s sabre and women’s epee, both of which were double winners at the last Asian Games. The men’s sabre is so strong that the last two Asian Games have been head-to-head between Korean athletes. In particular, Koo Bon-gil, who will be looking to win his fourth consecutive individual gold medal since Guangzhou 2010, is expected to lead the way in restoring Korean fencing pride.
Once ranked No. 1 in the world in the individual event, Koo hasn’t won an individual title since his silver medal at the 2020 World Cup in Luxembourg, but he made a comeback at the Asian Championships in Seoul last year, regaining the top spot after a four-year absence, and found confidence with a bronze medal at the World Cup in Budapest in March. In the team event, Koo Bon-gil, Oh Sang-wook, Kim Jung-hwan and Kim Jun-ho, who combined to win titles at the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, will be hoping for a third straight title.
In the women’s epee, Kang Young-mi, who will be looking to win her second consecutive individual Asian Games title, Song Sera, who won two 먹튀검증 world titles last year, and Choi In-jung, who has won bronze at the last two Asian Games, will be in contention.
In the team event, they will be joined by Lee Hye-in, who won silver at the Tokyo Olympics and gold at last year’s World Championships. The women’s epee team event hasn’t won a gold medal since Busan 2002.
South Korea has reached the final of the women’s epee team event at the last two Asian Games, but had to settle for silver after losing to China, and will be especially motivated after losing by one point in overtime at the last edition in Jakarta-Palembang.