HANGZHOU, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Despite her status as the women's epee Olympic champion, Sun Yiwen of China concluded her third Asian Games with a team bronze and a sixth-placed finish in the individual event, falling short of her expectations.
Determined to secure her maiden Asiad individual gold and a third consecutive team title in Hangzhou, the 31-year-old embarked on her quest with five consecutive group victories. She then progressed to face South Korea's Song Se-ra in the quarterfinals, marking their third encounter this year.
Initially leading the bout, Sun was eventually overtaken by the current world No. 5, suffering a narrow 14-12 defeat, which followed her previous encounter in the World Cup in Fujairah, UAE, and a victory in the World Championships in Milan, Italy.
Reflecting on the closely contested match, Sun remarked, "We both had an equal chance of winning. My offensive tactics worked initially, but then she began to focus on breaking through my defenses. We both use the French grip and struggle with defense."
"I didn't manage the distance effectively. I wanted to slow down when I was ahead, but my opponent maintained a fast pace. Whenever I tried to create distance, she pressed forward. I didn't exercise enough caution in response to her moves," Sun explained.
Following a two-day break and adjustments, Sun faced Song once more in the team semifinal, with China trailing 23-22. Song scored first, reaching 24-22. Without hesitation, Sun executed a fleche attack that pushed her opponent to the end of the piste, scoring two points in the same style.
Regarding her decision to push for victory when the score was tied at 24 with just over 40 seconds remaining, Sun stated, "I used to let the clock run down and aim for a deciding hit in such situations. But today, I wanted to break through and put more pressure on myself to see if I could perform better."
Regrettably, Sun's attempt resulted in a final score of 30-27, dashing the Chinese team's hopes for a third consecutive gold at the Asian Games. Nevertheless, Sun remained satisfied with her bold move.
Reflecting on her Asian Games journey, Sun gave herself 100 points for her efforts, emphasizing her commitment and dedication. She acknowledged that there was room for improvement in approximately 30 percent of her performance.
Looking back at her debut at the Incheon 2014 Games, where she secured her first Asian Games gold, Sun recalled, "My primary goal was to minimize errors and not lose many points." Four years later in Jakarta, she defended the team gold with her teammates, assuming greater responsibilities and leadership roles.
In Hangzhou, Sun led a young team of girls with limited international experience, despite the team's loss. She expressed optimism, saying, "We will begin with a fresh mindset, eagerly anticipating what lies ahead."
The next challenge for the Chinese women's epee team will be a series of qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, a crucial opportunity given their current position.
Looking ahead to the Paris Olympics, Sun has set her expectations high as the defending champion, declaring, "I aim to stand on the podium once again." .