Tributes pour in for five-time Paralympic champion Ying Ki Fung
World Abilitysport and the wheelchair fencing community have paid tribute to five-time Paralympic champion and international classifier Ying Ki Fung of Hong Kong who has passed away suddenly at the age of 43.
Following his retirement, Ki, who competed at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, went on to assist with the development of wheelchair fencing across Asia and the world. He offered his skills and experience to grow the sport in his home country and in Japan and Chinese Taipei.
He also studied at the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong before moving to complete a Masters in physiotherapy at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He became an international classifier for wheelchair fencing, most recently attending September’s Under 23s World Championships and World Cup in Busan, South Korea, and playing an instrumental role in the review of the sport’s classification rules.
Pal Szekeres, Chair of the Wheelchair Fencing Executive Committee, said: “He was a very sympathetic person, an excellent fencer, intelligent and funny guy. We lost not only a champion, we lost a good friend. Our deepest condolences go to his family. We will never forget you my friend.”
Hong Kong’s seven-time Paralympic gold medallist and Ki’s teammate, Yu Chui Yee, said:
“He was a very humble and talented fencer, he was my idol in wheelchair fencing and we went to the Athens Games together in 2004. After his retirement he went studying in Taiwan and helping to develop wheelchair fencing in Taiwan, besides, he became the coach of the Japanese team.
“His contribution to wheelchair fencing was tremendous and he was also willing to share his skills and experiences. We will all miss him so much.”
Ki contracted an infection at the age of 13 which led to him developing acute myelitis. He would later join the national wheelchair fencing team, competing at international competitions in 1996 and 1997 before making his mark at the 1998 World Championships in Euskirchen, Germany, where he won the world title in the men’s foil category A.
He made his Paralympic debut at Sydney 2000, claiming gold in the foil, sabre and the men’s foil team and bronze in the team sabre. In 2002 he retained his world title in foil, adding the individual sabre and both team golds in an impressive sweep.
At Athens 2004 Ki repeated his success in the foil and team sabre and secured silver in the team foil.
France’s Cyril More, himself a five-time Paralympic champion, faced Ki for gold in the final of the sabre in Sydney.
“Ki was for me the best fencer in sabre and I was always preparing for my big competitions thinking of him,” More said. “I was glad to imagine we were pushing ourselves in our favourite weapon for years.”
World Abilitysport and wheelchair fencing send their heartfelt condolences to Ki’s family and friends, especially his wife and young son, at this incredibly difficult time.