Whether it’s the final whistle blowing, the overtime buzzer sounding, or the referee calling an end to a duel, the result is often the same – a winner jumps up and down in uncontrollable joy as their opponent stoically accepts their defeat.
This is because professional athletes, like 17-year-old fencing phenom Faye Chan Yin-fei, have to push their emotions aside during the actual competition and it all comes rushing back to them as soon as it’s over.
The Sha Tin College student won first place in the cadet individuals sabre category at the Asian Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships in Thailand earlier this year, and her reaction showed how much the win meant to her.
Hong Kong teenage fencing star Edgar Cheung creates more history with city’s first ever World Cup medal
“I was an emotional mess because I’d finally accomplished something after feeling like I’d been getting worse [at fencing] in the last two years,” says the Hong Kong National Team member, who finished sixth in the world cadet fencing championships. “So I was very happy to celebrate my success alongside my teammates, family and coaches.”
Faye did not let emotions get the better of her during the actual competition, however. “I was surprised I managed to control them, but I didn’t want to go home empty-handed,” she confesses, adding that there was extra pressure on her as it was the last year she could participate in cadet events.
Self-proclaimed injury-prone Faye went into the competition without any injury scares, even after upping the frequency and intensity of her training in preparation for the championships.
Determined not to let the people around her down, she made sure to establish a strong and professional mind-set, as “the only person preventing yourself from performing at full potential is yourself”.
Faye fell into fencing more than four years ago one summer after trying the sport out, and – despite her young age – she now regularly takes part in high level competitions, like the senior World Fencing Championships in Leipzig, Germany coming up later this month.
Fencing is not simply two competitors parrying back and forth with a sword – it’s much more, explains Faye: “It tests your analytical skills and critical thinking – skills that can also be applied to real life situations.”
Her particular fencing form, the sabre, requires more speed and agility compared to the foil or epee – other forms used in fencing.
When asked about a role model within her sport, Faye had a very philosophical answer: “I admire anyone who has enough confidence to do what they love without judgement or hindrance from others.”
Hong Kong fencing is on the up and up, with young stars such as Cheung Ka-long (foil) and Vivian Kong Man-wai (epee) making headlines at last month’s Asian Fencing Championships in Hong Kong, and last year’s Olympic Games in Brazil.
And that’s certainly the direction that Faye is looking to head too. “I’d like to go to the Olympics, and get into the top four of an international senior-level competition,” she says, adding that competing in her hometown, Hong Kong, is the ultimate dream.
Faye hopes her rich run of form continues as she enters the fencing big leagues, and Young Post encourages you to get right behind her to support Faye too!
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re fencing?
I don’t think it describes me, but I’m the One by DJ Khaled (featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo and others) gives me confidence when I’m lacking it. It also has a nice chill flow to it, which relaxes me.
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
A cheetah, since it can move very quickly.
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
Bananas. I eat them between competitions too.
Which fictional character would you choose as your team-mate?
Fantastic Four’s Mister Fantastic. His ability to stretch his body out would be great for fencing.
10 years in the future, you are a famous fencer. What company are you spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
Adidas. It is one of my go-to brands because they look great!