Even Joshua Koh had not expected to celebrate ending Malaysia's 22-year gold medal drought in fencing when he won the men's individual epee at the University of Indonesia Main Hall yesterday.Favourite Mohamed Herullah of Indonesia had to withdraw from the contest after suffering excruciating pain from a knee injury he had carried into the final, when Joshua was leading 12-6.
Joshua, 21, who hadn't been born when Lim Teng Piao delivered Malaysia's last fencing gold medal in the 1989 Games in Kuala Lumpur, would have been happy with the silver medal after returning empty-handed from his Sea Games debut in Korat in 2007.
"It's also my first gold medal in an international competition, so I'm extremely happy. All my hard work has finally paid off," said Joshua, who is trained by Russian coach Oleg Thikomolov.
"I'm also thankful for the support I received from my family since I began taking up fencing seriously. We all worked hard, but we didn't expect a gold medal, but this is definitely good for the sport. It shows that we are making steady progress."
Joshua, who is from Kuala Lumpur, will now be looking to add to the fencing squad's medal count when he returns for the men's team epee on Wednesday.
The national quartet will feature Joshua along with Mohd Roslan Mohamad, Noor Nashriq Adli Noor Jali and Hasmie Sohaini.