After four days of near misses, Singapore's male fencers finally broke their historical golden duck at the OCBC Arena last night.
The youthful men's foil team faced the Philippines in the SEA Games' final fencing event, and won 45-40 to snare the Republic's first men's fencing gold in the biennial competition.
And it was a mighty relief for the entire men's team, who were made to endure narrow defeats through the four days of competition, especially in Saturday's 43-44 men's epee team final loss to Vietnam.
That heartbreaking loss by the epee fencers could have affected the foil fencers, three of whom were making their Games debut.
But the team - comprising Kevin Jerrold Chan, 17, Joshua Ian Lim, 19, Justin Ong, 21 and Tan Yuan Zi, 25 - stayed focused, as the Philippines were no pushovers after beating fancied Thailand in the semi-finals.
Simon Senft, national coach for the foil team, added: "In the individual event, Kevin lost to a Thai opponent and we also lost to the Thais at the last South-east Asian Championships.
"It might be better to fence Philippines instead, as they will have no fear and we have never fenced against this team before."
However Tan, who was the only one among the team who had SEA Games experience, said: "We knew that we could contend for the gold, but it will not be an easy fight. It was very close, but I am extremely proud that we fought all the way to the end and made it."
The final was indeed evenly-matched, as Singapore took the lead after they were tied at 25-all, but Philippines stayed close all the way, trailing by just 39-42 near the end of the tie.
Tan revealed: "Coach told us to stay focused on the game plan, do not rush and try to pull a very big lead. It is all these little points and leads that add up to our gold medal."
With the last point scored, the crowd erupted into thunderous cheers as Lim, the last fencer, took off his mask and raised his arms in jubilation.
It made up for the semi-final defeats earlier yesterday by the women's sabre team, who lost to Vietnam 36-45, and the women's epee team, who lost narrowly to the Philippines 28-29. Both settled for bronze.
With a successful harvest of three golds, three silvers and seven bronzes, the men's foil team's breakthrough ensured that Team Singapore ended their SEA Games journey on the sweetest note.
This article was first published on June 08, 2015.
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