National sabre fencer Yu Peng Kean (right) reacts after losing his semi-final match to Vietnam's Vu Thanh Anh at the Singapore SEA Games on Wednesday. - BERNAMA
SINGAPORE: The pressure got to Yu Peng Kean.
The national fencer buckled and had to settle for bronze after losing to Vietnam's Vu Thanh Anh in the men's individual sabre semi-final at the OCBC Arena Hall.
And with it, his chance to improve on the bronze he bagged at the Jakarta Games in 2011, when the sport was last contested.
Thanh Anh, who won the match 15-4, had raced to a 6-0 lead and fended off Peng Kean’s late charge to secure his place in the final.
“I just froze,” said Peng Kean “He attacked so well at the start and I lost my focus.”
He added being the only Malaysian left after Joshua Koh and Natasha Ezzra Abu Bakar fell in the quarter-finals of men’s epee and women’s foil, made his task harder.
“I came here hoping for something better than bronze ... instead, I let the pressure get to me.
“I knew he was not an easy opponent as he’s ranked higher than me, but I never expected to lose this way,” added Peng Kean, who will now regroup for the team event competition on June 6.
Malaysia are the defending champions for team sabre but Peng Kean is the only surviving member from the successful campaign in 2011. His team-mates here are Wong Tzer Chyuan, Muhd Shafiq Rizal and Adam Nicholas Lindbichler.
“It’ll be harder this time with my new team-mates but I’ll give it a shot anyway,” said the 24-year-old, who took the team sabre gold with Liong Ming Chang and Muhd Radhi Hasim in 2011.
The 24-year-old Natasha, one of the gold medal hopes, went down fighting 14-15 to Singapore’s Wang Wenying in the women's individual foil.
Joshua's title defence in the men's individual epee ended with a 11-15 loss to Panthawit Chamchrern of Thailand.