South Korea finished in third place at the 2017 World Fencing Championships in Leipzig, Germany, with a gold and two silver medals. All of the medals were won by sabre fencers, with the men's team earning its first-ever gold after beating Hungary. Gu Bon-gil finished second in men's individual sabre, while the women's team also earned its first world championships medal.
|South Korea national fencing team coaches and athletes pose for a photo after arriving at Incheon International Airport in Incheon on July 28, 2017. (Yonhap)|
Although South Korea failed to add medals in epee and foil, the sabre fencers' performance was enough to lead the national team to its best-ever finish at the worlds. In 2010, South Korea captured a gold and three bronze medals, but finished fifth in overall standings.
Yu Sang-ju, who coaches the men's sabre team, said a strong mentality, tactical preparedness and experience helped the South Korean sabre fencers to perform well in Germany.
"It's not exaggerating to say that the men's team was in Germany to win the gold medal," Yu said after his arrival at Incheon International Airport. "It turned out that Gu's loss in the individual final was a blessing in disguise, making us boost their mental strength and win the gold in the team event."
Yu said their training combines good things from Asian and European fencing, and his players have better technique and mental strength compared to Europeans.
"At the worlds, where fencers in other disciplines also compete, you could be overwhelmed by the atmosphere," he said. "But our players did their best to get rid of that and focus on their game."
The women's team coach Lee Hyo-kun said their achievements were accomplished in a day, emphasizing their process of preparation.
"Before the worlds, the women's team lost to China at the Asian Fencing Championships," he said. "We analyzed our weaknesses after that and received a good seeding at the worlds and those things led us to win the medal."
Gu, 28, said it's meaningful that young fencers have gained good experience through the worlds. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist in men's team sabre said he is willing to give further help to young fencers.
"These young fencers are growing faster than us in the past," he said. "I feel grateful that I'm able to write history with these young fencers." (Yonhap)