Teenage fencer Lau Ywen entered her name in the record books when she became the first Singaporean to win gold at the Cadet & Junior World Fencing Championships, held in the French city of Bourges.
The 16-year-old narrowly defeated Germany's Larissa Eifler 15-14 to claim the women's cadet individual (sabre) title yesterday morning (Singapore time).
It was a tough route to the final for the Republic's top female sabre fencer, who had to overcome some of the best Under-17 fencers from around the world.
Lau Ywen beat Asian Cadet champion Risa Takashima (15-14) of Japan in the quarter-finals, before edging out European Cadet champion Liza Pusztai (15-13) of Hungary in the semi-finals.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu praised Lau Ywen for her historic achievement.
"She may only be 16, but Lau Ywen did Singapore proud by defeating her German opponent 15-14 in an intense final match to become our first world champion in fencing," she said, in a Facebook post yesterday.
"Kudos to Lau Ywen and Fencing Singapore for flying our Singapore flag high.
"All the best to our cadet and junior fencers who are still competing in their respective events."
The victory is a significant achievement for the United World College student, who only two months ago fell 15-13 to Takashima at the Asian Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships.
Last year, Lau Ywen clinched a couple of bronze medals in the sabre team and individual events at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Fencing Singapore vice-president Yau Wee Sian said: "The World Junior-Cadet Championships is no pushover tournament, even though it's for U-17 fencers.
"The event is very different from the SEA Games, which was a senior tournament but obviously kept to countries in the region.
"Those countries are not top fencing nations but, in the World Championships, the best of the best are there."
Yau, who pointed to an ever-improving crop of young local fencers, tipped Lau Ywen for more success.
"This is a major achievement for her in the whole learning journey as an athlete; somebody who will be that lighthouse to inspire the many other young fencers around her," he said.
"It shows that she has arrived on the world stage because, in the same tournament last year, she finished in only 25th spot.
"This year, she is number one and she's not even done yet because she still has one more year in the U-17 World Championships bracket.
"Fingers crossed, it will be another good outing for her next year."
This article was first published on April 4, 2016.
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