(2nd LD) (Asiad) S. Korea claims third consecutive gold in men’s team sabre fencing

South Korea’s male sabre fencers team captured its third straight gold medal at the 19th Asian Games on Thursday, cementing its insurmountable status in the discipline in the region.

The team of Kim Jung-hwan, Gu Bon-gil, Oh Sang-uk and Kim Jun-ho took down China 45-33 in the gold medal match at Hangzhou Dianzi University Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China.

South Korea has dominated the men’s team sabre discipline since the 2014 Incheon Asiad, with Kim Jung-hwan and Gu having competed in the previous two events in 2014 and 2018.

This is the sixth gold medal for South Korea from the sport at the continental competition after two titles in the women’s epee and one each from women’s individual sabre, men’s individual sabre and men’s team foil.

The team gold also gave Gu six career Asian Games gold medals, tying him with five others for most won by a South Korean athlete. He won three individual sabre titles from the 2010 Asian Games and two from the team event in 2014 and 2018.

Nicknamed the Avengers in their home country, the quartet proved their dominance and showcased their world-class competitiveness en route to the final.

They routed Japan 45-26 in the quarters and cruised over Kazakhstan 45-41 in the semis.

The final against host China also went as they have done elsewhere.

South Korea, the two-time Olympic champion, winning the title at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics, started the first round down 4-5 but Gu took the lead and closed the second round 10-8.

In the next three rounds, Korea extended its lead to 25-15, and the comfortable lead continued to the end of the game. Oh, the individual gold medalist, took the piste in the final ninth round and reached the game-ending 45 points to seal the victory.

Oh became the second fencer with two golds in Hangzhou along with Choi In-jeong who doubled in the women’s individual and team epee.

Veteran fencer Gu, who took silver in the individual event after Oh, said the quartet were not bothered about the hostile Chinese crowd.

“We talked about this. It’s like we’re playing in a 99 to 1 duel. If we dominate the game, they would be quiet,” said Gu. “We tried not to mind the audience. I think we could focus more on the game thanks to them.”

In the subsequent women’s team foil event, South Korea lost 34-31 to China in the final and took silver.

In the nine-round final duel, the team of Hong Se-na, Chae Song-oh, Hong Hyo-jin and Hong Seo-in seesawed until the sixth round but lost the lead in the seventh.

Entering the ninth at 21-26, Chae made a last spurt but failed to change the tide.

South Korea’s female foil team had won gold at five straight Asian Games since 1998, but finished third in the 2018 tournament, after its most decorated fencer, Nam Hyun-hee, retired.

The fencing competition will wrap up Friday after the men’s team epee and women’s team sabre events.

South Korea have raked in six golds out of the 12 up for grabs in the sport at the Hangzhou Asiad so far.

Source: Yonhap News Agency