CHAN Tsz Ching, The University of Hong Kong
CHAN Tsz Ching
Bachelor Sciences in Speech and Hearing Sciences
The University of Hong Kong
Women's Epee Coupe de Monde (World Cup) Fencing Competition
I participated in the 45th International Ciutat De Barcelona World Cup Ladies Epee Fencing tournament at the premises of the Institute Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya (INEFC). This competition is ranked as A by the International Fencing Federation (FIE). This event is an international senior competition, in which the participants included 275 fencers from different countries including Hong Kong, Korea, France, Poland, USA, Estonia, Russia, Italy, Canada, Germany, Ukraine, Hungary, Switzerland, Argentina, Peru, Sweden, Great Britain, Israel, Columbia, Czech Republic, etc. There were both individual and team competitions, which were held on two different dates. Besides, there were a total of seven fencers from the Hong Kong team participating in the Barcelona World Cup.
The 45th International Ciutat De Barcelona World Cup Ladies Epee Fencing tournament was held at the premises of the Institute Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya (INEFC), heritage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Barcelona’92, from 11thFebruary to 13thFebruary.The Federació Catalana d’Esgrima and the Real Federación Española de Esgrima, in collaboration with the Ajuntament de Barcelona, the Consell Català de l’Esport, the Unió de Federacions Esportives de Catalunya and the Institut Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya, were the organizers of this prestigious competition. The Federació Catalana d’Esgrima is a non-profit organisation that oversees the development of fencing in the Catalan regions in Barcelona. The Real Federación Española de Esgrima is a governing body of fencing in Spain. Another host institution was the International Fencing Federation (FIE), which is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the world governing body of fencing.
I had some memorable moments experienced during my trip in Barcelona. All classes were arranged online during that time because of the pandemic situation in HK, however the difference in time zones between Europe and Hong Kong was around 7 hours, which means that I needed to attend classes during midnight at around 2am three days per week, apart from the fencing competitions and trainings during daytime. Therefore, it was really hard for me to always get enough rest and keep myself in shape. The Professors and Program Director in the university are really supportive and considerate. They offered to record some of the lectures for me so that I could avoid waking up too early or in the mid night to attend the classes in real-time before trainings or competitions. However, there were still a number of group discussions, presentations and practical sessions in the syllabus this year which were compulsory to attend via zoom. I remember I had the regular group discussion class, which was held from 2 am to 5 am (Europe time) every Friday. Coincidentally, most competitions were also held on Friday. Therefore, I had to stay awake to attend the discussions at mid night and it was really exhausting. Although I have tried my best, I realized that I was not in my best condition both physically and mentally because of lack of rest. However, it was an incredible and great experience to train and compete with the top fencers from all around the world. I have learnt a lot from them, and I know that I have to work even harder in order to become stronger and perform better in the upcoming competitions.
Aside from the fencing competition and training, I also gained insights into the culture and people of Spain. After the competition, my teammates and I did some sight-seeing and went to several local restaurants in Barcelona. Although we did not have much time for travelling around, we went to the Sagrada Familia, which is currently the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church. I was amazed by this spectacular building which is of great historical value.
In addition, I realised that the people in Spain are very kind and helpful. I remember that many things were only written in Spanish that we could not understand. It was really warm-hearted that the people passed by offered help and explained patiently to us what the words mean. Furthermore, our fitness coach was also a Spanish, he brought us to a lot of local restaurants. We really enjoyed the cuisines such as the gazpacho, paella and Spanish pancake. I always love to try different food when travelling to different countries. We learnt some basic Spanish words, such as buenosdías, gracias and bueno. While, we also teach the local people some Cantonese words. It is always nice to learn more about different cultures and exchange cultures with people from other parts of the world.
As a student athlete, it is always tough for me to strike a balance between studying and fencing. I always have to adjust my study and personal activities to fit in the HKSI training schedule so that I would practice more with the full-time fencing team members to enhance my fencing skills and conditions.
It was my first time joining those senior competitions world-wide. I am grateful to have such great opportunities to widen my horizons and gain rewarding experience through training and competing with athletes from different countries. Being able to go to this trip allowed me to train with many other top fencers in the world, which allowed me to learn from them and gain insightful knowledge. Competing with people from different places also enabled me to understand more about my strengths and weaknesses in terms of fencing techniques so that I know what areas I need to work harder on to improve and excel my performance, such as fitness, technical skills, and controlling my emotion.
On the other hand, concerning financial need, being a Hong Kong Fencing team member, other than attending school, training is also one of my routine activities, I need to attend at least 15 hours training at HKSI per week compulsorily. I am receiving the Sports Scholarship of HKSI Elite Training Grant each month, but the amount could only cover my daily travel expenses between school and HKSI. Due to the intensive study and training schedule, it is not possible for me to have other part-time job to earn additional income like many of the university students. As I have mentioned above, I am not sponsored by the HKSI for the travel and hotel expenses. Therefore, this scholarship is a really great help to subsidise part of the expenses incurred for the trip and relieve the financial burden of my family.
I would advise the other student athletes that they should continue with their sports journey if they truly like the sports they are playing and believe that they have talents. Opportunities may come anytime but only for those who are ready, although it is always challenging to keep a balance between school and sport achievements. I am proud to be a student athlete, this role requires extra efforts, keep me busy all the time but it also brings me a special life. I believe that as long as we keep training hard and better equipping ourselves, we are accumulating more and more knowledge, skill and experience every day, and improving ourselves so that we can be in our best condition during the next competitions. There is no shortcut, perseverance is the key to success. I genuinely believe in hard work pays off. Besides, the values of athletes should not be only based on their competition results but what they have gained through their whole journey. Therefore, they should keep going and not easy to give up, no matter what obstacles they encountered. The failures or challenges are in fact very important lessons for our growth as an athlete and help build the better self in the future.
Getting the Reaching Out Award (ROA) is really an encouragement for me to continue to pursue my dream in both studying and fencing. I would highly recommend the potential ROA recipient to grab the chance. I sincerely hope that this award can also help other recipients to relieve their financial burden and allow them to widen their horizons, gain precious experiences and explore the world.