EN GARDE. Even after 16 years in the business, the call to ask the fencer to adopt a defensive stance is still sweet music to Joshua Koh’s ears.
He has never got tired of hearing the phrase, which only a fencer can relate to.
Come December, Joshua will make his fourth and possibly final appearance at the SEA Games stage in the Philippines.
Having experienced what it’s like to stand on top of the SEA Games podium when he bagged gold in the individual epee in Indonesia in 2011, Joshua is extending his competitive career in a bid to earn the Olympian tag. For him, the SEA Games is just the springboard for a bigger mission next year.
“I hope to get a shot at going for the Asian qualification tournament for the Olympics. It should take place before April, which is the deadline to collect ranking points for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I missed out on my best chance to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. I took part in the Asian zone qualifying tournament and lost by just one point. There is no chance for me to get in through the world rankings, so the only way is to go for the Asian zone qualifying tournament.
“But it’s really tough as everyone is fighting for the two spots at stake, ” said the 28-year-old, who admits he is on his last legs.
“My brother (Timothy Koh) has already quit and is now among the coaches bringing the team to the SEA Games.
“Many have asked me when I will quit but I still want to keep going as long as I’m fit.
“There’s a lot of stress on the body at times but I think fencing is a very good sport as it teaches one to be very focused and determined.
“I never got bored of it since I started to represent the country in 2003.
“I hope to get another shot at making it to the final and see where it takes me from there. It’s going to be tough as we have not had the chance to go for many competitions to get ourselves tuned up compared to fencers from other countries.
“But I am determined to give it a shot and come back with another medal, ” said Joshua, who has always contributed at least one medal in previous SEA Games.
The fencer from Selangor made his debut in Korat, Thailand with a bronze in the team epee event and celebrated his best outing yet in 2011 with a gold in the individual epee and bronze in the team event.
Joshua, who has a diploma in Agriculture Management, was the only medal winner when he claimed bronze in the individual epee at the last SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017. Fencing was not contested in Laos (2009) and Myanmar (2013).
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