Fencer KONG foiled her mother's ballet dream

RIO DE JANEIRO - KONG Man Wai Vivian (HKG) fought an ongoing battle with her mother before she was able to sidestep ballet classes to take up fencing.

Eleven years after picking up a mask and blade for the first time, the 22-year-old epee competitor has justified her rebellious decision by qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

"My mum always wanted me to dance," KONG said. "She loves dancing and she always wanted me to be a ballerina. So the first thing I learned was ballet lessons.

"But I hated it. I was three years old but I was already a rebel. That was the only thing I wouldn't like to do - dancing."

KONG was determined to learn a fighting sport, more suitable to her temperament. "And then taekwondo was next door. I was interested in taekwondo and so I did it all the way until I was 11 and I got my kids' black belt," she said.

"But then my mum still wanted me to dance and so in between she made me do ice skating. I liked it, but I wasn't so good at it because ice skating is still kind of dancey. And then my dad stepped in and said, 'Why don't you try to do fencing?'

"Fencing is like the ballet in sports, it's very elegant. And so my mum said OK and I really, really liked fencing so I started it at 11."

KONG qualified for Rio 2016 as world No.17 in women's epee individual event and has already fulfilled one of her dreams.

During Thursday's training session, when she trained with the double world champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist from Romania, Ana Maria POPESCU, nee BRANZA (ROU).

"I have so many idols in fencing but one of them is definitely BRANZA," KONG said. "It's so hard to fence against her, she is so precise.

"I really look up to her fencing and it's such an honour to be able to train with her. Yesterday she was so nice to me, because I forgot a glove and she lent me her glove. I freaked out: I took a picture with the glove and with her.

"It's the first time I trained with her. I had only fenced her before just in competition and I always lost pretty badly. She is at her fourth Olympic Games while this is only my first time, so she has just a little bit more experience than me."


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