PETALING JAYA: On guard!
Malaysian sabre fencer Yu Peng Kean has a chance to steal the thunder by claiming the nation's first gold medal at the SEA Games on Wednesday.
But he must overcome pain every time he suits up for action.
“I went for ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery on both knees after the London Olympics ... and I’ve not really recovered.
“It’s painful each time I put pressure on the knees when I move,” said Peng Kean, who became the first Malaysian Olympic fencer in 48 years when he competed in London in 2012.
Peng Kean, who trained with the Romanian fencers in Bucharest for 45 days in preparation for the Games, is hoping his knees will hold up.
“But I’m coping with it through injections and I also have my painkillers. I hope I’ll be okay," said the 24-year-old, who won the team sabre gold with Liong Ming Chang and Muhd Radhi Hasim in the 2011 edition in Jakarta.
Three individual gold medals – in men's epee and sabre and in women's foil – will be decided on Wednesday night as fencing returns to the SEA Games after missing out in Myanmar two years ago.
In Jakarta, Joshua Koh also bagged the men’s individual foil title for the country’s first fencing gold medals in more than two decades.
“It will be difficult to defend the team gold this time as we have new members. I’m the only one left from the 2011 campaign,” said Peng Kean, who also won the bronze in the individual event in Jakarta.
The Universiti Putra Malaysia student is making his third SEA Games appearance since Korat in 2007. Fencing was not contested in Laos in 2009.
His team-mates this time are Wong Tzer Chyuan, Muhd Shafiq Rizal and Adam Nicholas Lindbichler.
For added support, Peng Kean will turn to his girlfriend Leung Chii Lin, a former national swimmer and SEA Games gold medallist, to see him through.
“She’s a former athlete and understands what I’m going through. She encourages me and is very supportive,” he said.
By Lim Teik Huat