FENCING: Three top-20 performances have highlighted a strong Asian Championships for the Australian Fencing Team who have just returned home from Hong Kong.
The standout performance came from 24-year-old Emily Marotta who finished 14th in the women's foil, the best result by an Australian women's foilist since 2008.
The men's foil team also impressed on the world stage, with Sholto Douglas (19th), Edward Fitzgerald (20th), Christopher Nagle (21st), and Lucas Webber (29th) all scoring finishes in the top 30 in the individual foil event before joining forces for a commendable fifth place in the team event.
Marotta was stoked to have reached her goal of making the top 16.
"I knew I had to do well in the pools to get a good ranking going into the direct elimination round, and so despite the nerves I held my own and performed really well, winning 4 and losing 2," the Melbourne-based fencer said.
"I had a bye in the round of 64, and going into the round of 32 I was super super nervous. The woman I had to fence from Chinese Taipei I had lost to in Mongolia in 2015 at the U/23 Asian Championships in the quarter finals, and did not want to have a repeat.
"I fenced the bout really well, I took my time and was patient, which is so super important, as I tend to rush. The last one-minute of the bout I was up by three points and she just started going for it.
"She was making me work really hard and all I thought to myself was not to panic or stuff it up and remember that this is what I trained for, this pressure," Marotta said of her 15/10 defeat over Hsin Cheng.
In the round of 16, Marotta came up against Hee Sook Jeon of Korea, the same competitor who knocked her out of the direct elimination round at the 2016 Championships.
"It was a really tough bout, it is super hard going up against a full-time athlete who is also 10 years older than me and a two time Olympian. She has experiences and talent I just do not have yet.
"I felt like I was able to give it a good go and didn't give up at any point, but she was definitely all over me most of the time."
While she was stoked with her performance, she attributes part of her success to the support of her team and coaches.
"Rob, who was our team coach, was really helpful and so were the men's foilists. The women's foil team was really small this year and so having that support was great."
The men's foil team have placed fifth for the past two consecutive years. Although they placed fifth again, they're closing the gap between themselves and the top four teams: China, Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.
President of Australian Fencing Federation, Evelyn Halls, was impressed with the entire team's performance.
"We were very pleased with Emily's performance which is a fitting reward for all the extra work she has been putting in over the last 12 months or so," Halls said.
"We were also pleased with the performance of the Men's Foil Team, who pushed Hong Kong all the way in the quarter-finals (the final score was 40-45) and are closing in on the top-4 teams, who are all very strong at the world level.
Australia's top fencers will now turn their attention to the World Championships in Leipzig, Germany from 19-26 July.
Australian Fencing Team results from the 2017 Asian Championships
Men's Epee: Kristian Radford 22nd, Jeremy Shelley 44th, Ross Austen 52nd, Scott Rawlins, 64th
Men's Foil: Sholto Douglas 19th, Edward Fitzgerald 20th, Christopher Nagle 21st, Lucas Webber, 29th
Women's Epee: Emily Patten 28th, Dianna Gu 37th, Anne Devereaux 43rd, Emily Principe 50th
Women's Foil: Emily Marotta 14th, Freya Clarke 31
Women's Sabre: Samantha Auty 28th
Men's Epee team: 12th
Men's Foil team: 5th
Women's Epee team: 8th