SINGAPORE – The Republic’s foil fencers Amita Berthier and Maxine Wong faced stiff competition at the Fencing World Championships in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday (July 19), but the duo were eager to test their wits and skills against quality opponents.

Berthier matched her best performance at the world event by making it to the round of 32, which she also achieved in 2017.

Her top-32 finish is the best performance by a Singaporean fencer at the competition.

While the 21-year-old was ranked 22nd in 2017, this time she was placed 31st after the direct elimination round and pools results were taken into account.

Berthier, who is based in the United States where she is pursuing a degree in sociology at the University of Notre Dame, had hoped to advance to the round of 16 but was beaten 15-5 by French Olympic team silver medallist Ysaora Thibus in her earlier bout.

She said: “The world champs is challenging, it is not an accepted or expected idea that you can even qualify for round two or day two so making it to the second day is in itself a feat.

“I am happy that having been away for a bit after the Olympics due to nursing an injury, I am finding that excitement in competing again. I am generally happy to get to the position I did at the world champs – it can always be better but it is one good step forward.”

Teammate Wong was knocked out of the competition in the round of 64 by Japan’s world No. 8 Yuka Ueno, a silver medallist at the 2019 Asian Fencing Championships.

Despite the loss, Wong was encouraged by certain aspects of her bout. She told The Straits Times that she was happy with how she started, which enabled her to gain the lead against her opponent.

The 21-year-old said: “This was good as it means my coach (Simon Senft) and I are on the right track.

“However, she was able to adapt which enabled her to win in the end. This is something I want to improve on too, that is, to adapt faster and to be able to change my game plan faster.”

The National University of Singapore undergraduate felt that there were times when she performed below expectations, but she was pleased with her overall performance in the individual event.

She had only just made it to the top 64 after a nervy qualifying match against Romania’s Emilia Corbu, but was pleased by how she managed to stay calm to claw her way back from 7-2 down to win 13-12 and advance to the next round.

Wong, who bagged an individual silver and team gold at the Hanoi SEA Games in May, said there was plenty to take away from her bouts against top-ranked fencers.

She added: “While it is important to have good skills and technique, I still need to improve on my speed, timing, precision and strength, which are all essential for fencing.

“At this high level of fencing, most fencers are armed with a wide repertoire of skills and techniques. And everyone has trained so hard to compete here.

“The top fencers have strong physicality, good timing and great speed. I definitely have to learn from that.”

Singapore’s foil fencers will next feature in the team event on Thursday and Friday. The world championships ends on Saturday.

Last modified: July 20, 2022