PETALING JAYA: Teenager Hans Yoong (pic) and the other fencers were distraught when fencing was among four sports which were initially dropped from the KL SEA Games programme.
Thankfully for them, fencing as well as judo, triathlon and Muay Thai were reinstated into the Games programme last July.
And now the 16-year-old Hans hopes to make the best of fencing’s second chance at the KL Games from Aug 19-30.
“It was really disappointing when we first heard that fencing had been dropped from the SEA Games,” said Hans, who is fast establishing himself as one of the best foil fencers in the country.
“I really want to do my part in showing that fencing can be an important sport at the Games by winning a medal.”
Hans, who trains under former Olympian Nontapat Panchan of Thailand, is definitely one of the fencers to look out for at this year’s Games.
He earned his spot by virtue of winning the Malaysian Fencing Federation’s final selection, beating 18-year-old Tristan Cheng in the final last week.
Hans, of Kuala Lumpur, also earned a major international breakthrough when he finished 24th out of 119 fencers in the cadet category (Under-17) of the World Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in April.
Hans won all his five group matches in the preliminary rounds to be seeded 13th in the knockout stage.
He defeated Romania’s Silviu Rosu 15-12 in the second round but lost 9-15 to Germany’s Arwen Borowiak in the third round.
It was an impressive feat by Hans as he was the fifth highest-ranked Asian fencer – behind competitors from Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
“I’ve been feeling more confident since winning the national title last year ... my results in Bulgaria have given me a major boost,” said Hans.
“It’s quite a breakthrough for me to finish 24th ... it’s also the first time I won all my group matches.
“The SEA Games will be tough because fencers from Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam are all very strong. But I’ve made considerable progress this year and I’m sure I’ll be ready for them.”
Hans, however, has a few other pressing assignments to attend to before the KL Games.
He will head for Fuzhou, China, on Sunday for a short stint before competing in the Asian Fencing Championships in Hong Kong from June 15-20. The other Malaysians competing in Hong Kong are Tristan and Megat Zuhril Zariman.