Underdogs rule the day

Due reward: Shaidatul Shafiqh (left), Tyanne (centre) and Ivy will make their debut at the SEA Games in June this year.

IT WAS a day of upsets at the inaugural FT Open & Veteran Championships 2015 (FTO15) as the junior Team Putrajaya A came out tops in the Mixed Sabre Team fencing event.

Putrajaya A, under the Pelapis (national backup) programme, overcame seniors Putrajaya B in a nail-biting final held at the Titiwangsa Stadium.

The final started out incredibly intense, with spirits and tensions running high on both sides, but Putrajaya A got the better of things and managed to take a comfortable 20-12 lead.

However, in a turn of events, former national and Putrajaya B ace fencer Adam Nicholas Lindbichler put on a masterclass performance, cutting into Putrajaya A’s advantage, scoring 13 touches and putting the team 24-25 ahead for the first time in the final bout.

However, despite this, Putrajaya A remained composed and by the time the last fencers came on, they were leading 40-29.

The final showdown saw Putrajaya A’s Syed Adam and Lindbichler go point for point, before Syed Adam managed to see his opponent’s relentless aggression and close the bout at 45-37.

“The start was really intense and I was under a lot of pressure,” said 15-year-old Syed Adam, who had five touches to his opponent’s eight in the last leg.

Meanwhile, teammate Mohd Shafiq, 20, was very happy with his team’s performance as a whole.

“We didn’t expect to win and are very happy that we did,” he said, adding that confidence and teamwork were the key factors behind their success.

Lindbichler, who claimed gold in the men’s Sabre individual event a day before, had nothing but praise for the junior fencers and said that if they continued to train hard, they were going to be very good.

Meanwhile, the women’s Foil Team event saw another Pelapis side, Team Putrajaya, beat Team Blade 45-34 to clinch the top spot.

Despite this, fencer Natasha Tai from Team Blade was satisfied with the results.

“As the team was put together at the last minute, these results were not expected,” said Natasha.

She added that she was happy that the scores were “quite close” even though they were up against the national backup side.

On the other hand, Putrajaya’s Ivy Cheah Hsiao Yong, 21, wasn’t too happy about her performance in the final bout.

“I felt I could have done better,” she said, adding that the pressure was high for them to win as they were the favourites.

Ivy, along with teammates Tyanne Fong and Shaidatul Shafiqh Ab Hamid, will be competing in their first SEA Games in June this year.

The final categories were the Veteran Foil and Veteran Epee events, whose participants were 40 of age or more.

In the Women’s Epee Individual event, Siti Zaharah Abdul Khalid edged Swashbucklers Fencing Club’s Helen Swan 10-9, to claim the top honours.

Gilbert Bekking of Bekking Fencing Academy dominated the men’s Foil and Epee events, taking the top spot in both.

Bekking said he was pleased with the direction that fencing in Malaysia was heading and felt competitions such as these can boost the game, which would allow fencing to grow rapidly.

“This is the first time a tournament like this is organised, so there is still a lot of room for improvement.

“We hope to get more people in the future and hope this becomes the standard for fencing in Malaysia,” said Bekking, adding that there was a dire need for more fencing competitions in the country.

Other final results had Team Blade trump Team Putrajaya Foil A 45-32 in the men’s Foil Team event and Swashbucklers Team A take down Team JFC 45-38 in the men’s Epee Team final.

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