South Korea shock Thailand to take women’s epee team title


South Korea produced a shock victory over defending silver medallists and hosts Thailand in the women’s epee team at the 2024 Asian and Oceanian Championships in Nakhon Ratchasima on Thursday (25 April).

Thailand, consisting of the Queen of the Epee Saysunee Jana, Aphinya Thongdaeng and Duean Nakprasit, entered the final as the favourites in the absence of 2022 title holders China.

But Sunmi Kim, Hyo Kyeong Kwon and Eun Hye Cho had other ideas.

South Korea carved out an early lead, including a surprise win for Cho against Jana – both category B fencers – in a repeat of the individual final from the previous day. There Jana maintained her unbeaten record in place since 2020 but on Thursday Cho beat her by one point.

Visibly unsettled by the situation they found themselves in, Thailand continued to lose ground. Thongdaeng came to the rescue against Cho, bringing the hosts back to within two points of their opponents.

Credit: SPADT

Kwon extended the lead once again but Nakprasit put Thailand right back in it. With two rounds to go the score was 34-30 to South Korea.

That left Kim and Jana and Kwon and Thongdaeng to fight it out. Thailand however could not find the momentum and South Korea were the first to reach 45. The win improves on their bronze medal from the 2022 Asian Championships.

Hong Kong, China’s, Ka Man Lam, Nga Ting Tong and Pui Shan Fan rounded off the podium after beating India for bronze.

The Thai men however had better luck on Thursday, becoming the new Asian champions in the foil team against Japan.

The long and drawn out match was a battle of wills between the two countries, with much postering around positioning of athletes in their fencing chairs.

In the end it came down to who had the most stamina and mental resilience and that was Boonsiri Sanitmuanwai, the new Asian champion from the individual category B Visit Kingmanaw and Yuenyong Khantithao.

Their Japanese opponents Naoki Yasu, Shintaro Kano and Michinobu Fujita kept within touching distance of Thailand until the sixth tie when Kingmanaw faced Fujita. It was then that he was able to put enough clear air between Thailand and Japan to head into the penultimate two rounds with an eight point lead.

With the match getting away from them, and in tough conditions with the mercury rising to 40 degrees outside the venue, Khantithao and Sanitmuanwai were able to finish the job.

The final score was 45-30.

Iraq’s individual champion Zainalabdeen Al-Madhkhoori, Ammar Ali and Hayder Al-Ogaili eased past Hong Kong, China’s Sean Glass, Long Ho Chow and Sheung Ho Lee 45-21 to claim bronze.

Credit: SPADT

The 2024 Wheelchair Fencing Asian Championships continue on Friday (26 April) with the men’s epee and women’s foil category A and B competitions.

Action in Nakhon Ratchasima runs until Sunday (28 April) with athletes going for some of the final qualification points for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.