Ywen ready for cut and thrust

Ywen ready for cut and thrust

Two years ago, Lau Ywen was a bright-eyed 12-year-old, taking in the sights and sounds of the London Olympics. As part of the the McDonald's Champion of Play programme, she got to experience the Games first hand, and even interviewed athletes.

This week, the former cub-reporter will find herself on the other side of the fence as she heads to Incheon, South Korea to compete in her first major sporting meet - the 17th Asian Games.

The first-year student at the United World College South-east Asia's Dover Road campus will be the youngest member of the Republic's 16-strong fencing contingent. She is also the sole Singaporean competing in the individual women's sabre event in Incheon, South Korea.

It is not easy for anyone, let alone a teenager, to make a debut at a major sporting event but Ywen believes she can draw inspiration from her time at the London Games to help drive her forward in Incheon.

"The 2012 Olympics were an eye-opener for me," she said.

"I learnt the importance of celebrating after winning every point because it not only motivates you but also adds pressure on the opponent.

"More importantly, I saw how athletes cope with pressure yet still perform at their best when it was competition time. That taught me how pressure can be channelled positively to your advantage."

The younger of two siblings - elder sister Ysien, 16, is also a fencer who represented Singapore at last year's Asian Youth Games - seems to have put that knowledge to good use. In July, she made light of her relative inexperience at the Asian Fencing Championships in Suwon, South Korea.

Still merely a rookie, after stepping up to the senior level of international competitions only at the start of this year, she surprised many when she became the first and youngest Singaporean to finish in the top eight of the competition, defeating Yuliya Zhivitsa, who was part of a bronze-winning Kazakhstan sabre team at the previous Asiad, along the way.

She eventually lost to Chen Shen of China, who eventually won the bronze medal in Suwon and is the fourth-ranked Asian.

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