Friends become enemies on the fencing piste

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Friends become enemies on the fencing piste


Gu Bon-gil, right, encourages his teammate Oh Sang-uk after beating him in the men’s individual sabre final at the 2018 Asian Games at Jakarta Convention Center Cendrawasih Hall in Jakarta on Monday. [YONHAP]

Gu Bon-gil became the first fencer in Asiad history to defend his title for a third consecutive Games on Monday, but the victory was bittersweet for Team Korea. Gu’s gold came at the expense of teammate Oh Sang-uk, who had to settle for silver after losing to his friend and training partner.

Emotions run high on the fencing piste, but Gu and Oh will have to forget about Monday’s game quickly as they are due to return to the arena together tomorrow to compete in the men’s sabre team event.

Stakes for tomorrow’s bout are high. After losing on Monday, Oh has missed out on his first shot at a military service exemption. If the team gets gold tomorrow, Oh will be exempted from completing his military service. If it doesn’t, the 21-year-old will have to wait another two years to the Tokyo Olympics to try for gold again.

Oh may have gone into Monday’s bout desperate for gold, but Gu triumphed and defended his title. After trading three points, Oh was first to take the lead, 6-3. However, Gu quickly tied the match 8-8 before Oh slowly took the lead 12-11. Then, after winning three straight points, Gu took control of the bout again.

Oh didn’t give up. At 14-12, Oh requested a video review and wasted no time tying the score once again to 14-14. Gu ultimately took the final point in the close fought match.

“I am obviously happy to win, but I also feel pretty bad about the situation,” Gu was quoted as saying on Yonhap. “He could have benefited from gold here. I’ll try to win the team gold [on Thursday] so that he’ll have that in the end.”

“It’s disappointing to lose by one point,” Oh was quoted as saying. “But I learned a lot from this. We still have the team event coming up, and I’ll try to perform better and win gold.”

Earlier on Monday night, Jeon Hee-sook won Korea’s first gold medal in fencing by winning the women’s foil individual. By winning gold, Jeon became Korea’s 700th gold medalist at the Asian Games and successfully defended her title.

En route to Jeon’s final match, she defeated six-time gold medalist and teammate Nam Hyun-hee in the round of 16. Now that the individual event is done, Jeon and Nam will be focused on winning gold in the team event which starts tomorrow.

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