Hong Kong male fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long has made history by winning gold in the men’s individual foil event, defeating reigning Olympics champion Daniele Gorozzo from Italy.
He won the final with a score of 15-11, taking Hong Kong’s first foil fencing gold and second gold medal ever won in Olympics.
Facing the gold medalists in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 24-year-old Cheung started out with quick and sharp attacks, but the world number seven Gorozzo was able to dodge the attacks and score four points straight to lead 4-1.
But Cheung, currently ranked 19th in the world, remained calm, landed one attack after another and snatched five straight points to reclaim the lead.
After some quick attacks, Cheung extended the lead to 10-5, before 28-year-old Gorozzo attempted another comeback, and was just one point behind.
Cheung once again got his mind together and fended off the Italian 15-11 to be the first ever fencer to snatch gold in the Olympic Games in his second appearance in the Olympics.
After the match, Cheung said he was so excited and he could hardly believe that he won the second gold medal in Hong Kong history.
“I did not play that well in the beginning and it was a bumpy ride. I thought to myself that I cannot remain defensive anymore and attack more, and it worked,” Cheung said.
He also added that he reminded himself when he was behind to not give up, and recover the deficit one point at a time.
The 24-year-old said the gold medal means a lot to Hong Kong’s fencing athletes. “It proves that we are not only winning in Asia, but we can also win in world competition and achieve what we want.”
"I want to say thank you to my family the most because sometimes I get frustrated when I do not play well,” he said, adding that the medal will be a birthday gift to his father, who just had his birthday yesterday.
As he also expressed gratitude to his friends and Hongkongers who have supported him, Cheung said his job is not done yet, as he hopes he can snatch another gold for Hong Kong in the team competition.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor congratulated Cheung and his coach minutes after his win, saying that citizens in Hong Kong are proud of him.
“I have been watching Ka-long's matches on TV today, and cheered for him. Ka-long has outstanding techniques and was calm in the matches. Showing his exceptional perseverance in adversity, he created history for Hong Kong finally,” Lam said.
She added that Cheung’s great performance has proved the strength of Hong Kong athletes.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po congratulated Cheung on Facebook
for getting the first gold medal since the handover of Hong Kong.
“You well deserved it! The whole city is proud of you! Congratulations!”
Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai echoed her sentiment, congratulating Cheung for winning the first and historical gold medal in the Olympics.
“Cheung Ka-long has fully met the challenges to display his skills and maintained a high level of concentration during the competition. It is a great honour to win the medal. I hope he will reach new heights in future.”
In a Kwun Tong shopping mall, citizens flocked in to watch the live broadcast of the match in the mall.
Hundreds of citizens took their position in the atrium, and the atmosphere grew tense as the score came close, citizens also cheered slogans like “Hong Kong!” and “hang in there Ka-long!”, and clapped whenever Cheung scored a point.
Some shed tears of joy when Cheung won the game, while some popped champagne bottles to celebrate the win.
A 60-year-old woman named Yu said she was delighted for Hong Kong to win another gold Olympic medal.
“I did not expect the match would have been so exciting."
Cheung was in top form yesterday, as he showed his adaptability and cool mind in his road to the finals.
He completely thrashed current world number one Alessio Foconi from Italy 15-3 in the round of 16 before fighting a hard match against Kirill Borodachev, an athlete competing under the Russian Olympic Committee banner.
Cheung was five points behind while the 21-year-old Russian reached match point, and was on the verge of being eliminated, but Cheung took the last six points of the bout to snatch victory from Borodachev 15-14.
After advancing to the semifinals, Cheung was even more confident after a “miracle comeback” victory in the previous round.
He was more precise in his attacks against Czech Republic’s Alexander Choupenitch and snatched three quick points right from the start of the bout.
Cheung was at one point leading 7-2 before the 27-year-old Czech settled down his nerves and tied the game at 7-7.
But Cheung was never fazed by his opponent’s momentum and snatched two points with quick attacks and ensured a four-point lead into the end of the first period at 13-9, before easily finishing the match 15-10 after the break and into the finals.
Cheung, who won the second medal for Hong Kong since the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games following former windsurfer Lee Lai-shan, has attained outstanding performances in fencing in recent years.
In 2016, he was eliminated from the same event in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the round of 16.
Cheung then charged ahead with another gold medal in men’s foil in fencing at the 2017 Junior and Cadet World Fencing Championships in Bulgaria.
In 2018, he also won a bronze medal in the men’s foil in fencing at the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games.