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Fencing Assistant Coach Wang Yung Wins Silver Medal at World Veterans Championships

Fencing Assistant Coach Wang Yung Wins Silver Medal at World Veterans Championships

HAVERFORD, Pa. – Haverford College fencing assistant coach Wang Yung recently captured a silver medal at the world championships in the 60 and over age classification. Yung won his medal representing Hong Kong in sabre, the squad he also helps for both the men's and women's teams at Haverford.

However, his success was far from limited to an individual perspective. At the conclusion of the World Championships, Yung coached the women's 60 and over team to a gold medal at the World Championships and was also awarded the Sportsmanship Award from the Livorno Club of Panathlon International.

"Panathlon International is an international movement for the promotion and dissemination of culture and sports ethics," said Yung. "It is recognized by the International Olympic Committee with the aim to deepen, disseminate, and defend the values of sports as a tool for training and enhancement of person and as a vehicle of solidarity between men and peoples."

He continued by adding that, "Livorno has a population of about 160,000 but it is the home of two fencing clubs. One club, Fides Livorno was founded in 1892 as has produced some of the greatest fencers who have become legends in the history of fencing. The fencers in Livorno have World and Olympic Champions in multiple weapons. Livorno is important to fencing and fencing is important to Livorno. In that rich historical context, being recognized by the Livorno Club of Panathlon International is an amazing honor. As a fencer, I rank this award higher than winning the silver medal because this is not something I could have trained for or defeat someone to win."

From a competition perspective, his individual silver medal was validation for all of the hard work he continues to put into the sport. "It means that the methodology I used and teach works. On the level relating to switching country affiliation, my silver medal was the highest finish of any US male sabre fencer at the World Championships. I hope this is a reply to the assumption that I switched affiliation because I am not good enough to compete for the US team."

Competing on the largest stage, his competition was never short on drama. "Each bout is a battle in itself and unlike others of the day. The bouts against last year's world champion were tactically complicated. The ones against the German and the French were tests of willpower and overcoming fear. I won each bout by one touch. Each of those bouts challenged me in different ways and gave me opportunities to challenge myself."

The World Championships were also special for another reason. As alluded to earlier, Yung had the chance to represent Hong Kong on the international stage. "My family immigrated to the US when I was six years old so the majority of my life experience is being American. I loved watching sports and have been a fan of the Olympic Games. I wanted to earn the right to wear "USA" on my uniform since I was young."

"I grew up in the lower East Side of New York City. Being American meant belonging to a diversity of races and ethnic backgrounds. America gave our families the opportunity to grow and be part of this country. It was the "American Experience". I would spend decades volunteering in my diverse community advocating for civil rights, gender equality, and economic justice. I wanted to help sustain the American dream. My switching country of representation is not a negative statement about America or being American. I have proudly earned the opportunity to represent the USA in 14 World Championships and have won seven world medals including two golds for my country. This year, I switched to represent another country not because I have a big platform. On the contrary, I hope those who know me in fencing will see my action on a more personal level because I hope that to them, I may not be a faceless, nameless "other". Hopefully, when they see the vilification of the "other", it affects someone they know.

Although there was no overlap with his coaching and competition roles, that by no means meant Yung's days were anything but pressure-packed. "My student, Jane Eyre, won her seventh world championships at this Championships and my other student who is three times world champion, came in tenth.  Coaching two world level fencers while trying to remain competitive myself is the balance challenge. As any fencing coach will tell you coaching and competing are total opposites. As a coach, you have to let the student hit you and stop you from hitting them. As a competitor, your mindset is to never let it happen. In terms of muscle memory, it is difficult to remain sharp as a competitor if you spend more time coaching and letting yourself get hit then competing and hitting. The challenge to balance the two is throughout the entire year of training and not just at the tournament."

As for the future, Yung hopes to continue to excel on all spectrums of the world fencing stage. "I want to do both for as long as I can. Intellectually, the challenge is to take what I learn as a competitor and translate it into a lesson to keep my student ahead of the crowd. At Haverford, it means bringing world level fencing into the Andy Kates Fencing Salle. We are fortunate to have very bright and dedicated fencers on the Haverford fencing team."