Easy to get to the point with fencing guide

Easy to get to the point with fencing guide

The two men, having put down their masks and set down their duelling swords, huddle together, gingerly holding a box with a medal in it.

One man is 58, slim of waist and smiling of face. The other is half his age at 29, burly of build and gentle of manner.

They're taking a picture which isn't for us but just for them. A picture which captures a sweet moment and tells a poignant tale.

But to understand why the photo matters, and to appreciate coach Sugumar D and fencer Lim Wei Wen, we must rewind to 2005.

Back then, Lim - who won a SEA Games silver and bronze in 2007 and is about to debut at the Asian Games - is a kid who wants to play tennis as his co-curricular activity.

Back then, Sugumar D, now section head, physical education at ITE College West is looking for kids to follow fencing at ITE Balestier.

Even now they laugh at their introduction to each other, a sort of bad joke that never gets too old to tell.

Sugumar told the young Lim that fencing involves building a barrier of wood around the school. Lim believed him. And thus began a journey.

Eventually, Lim figured out fencing was a sport; predictably, for a young dude interested in professional gaming, he wasn't impressed. He looked at these costumed athletes, with their "strange" stances, who were "poking each other" and decided "it was easy".

Till a senior fencer overheard him and challenged him to a duel. "I didn't even know how to suit up, but they helped me and I got thrashed in 20 seconds." The senior, just by the way, was a girl. And Lim, just so you know, was hooked on fencing.

Athletes need guiding spirits and for Lim it was Mr Su. Coaches need devoted pupils and for Mr Su this was Lim.

"He was very motivated," says Sugumar. "I saw a champion in him. He'd always want to know his weaknesses."

Lim says: "He made me believe if you have the heart, you will achieve something. If you have someone who can lead you, the outcome can be amazing."

Fencing is tactical, technical and terribly fast. "It's very aggressive, you need fast-twitch muscles," says Lim.

"It's boxing with weapons." It needs skill to be built layer by layer, a bit like an actress applying make-up, for nothing works beautifully without an effective foundation.

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