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Tomorrow's News Today

Tokyo 2020 : TeamSG Fencer Kiria Tikanah's Olympic debut ends, after heroic battle against current World No 1!

by Circle News, on Jul 24, 2021 1:50:36 PM

000_9FT88Q(Kiria Tikanah competing in round of 32 against Popescu at Tokyo 2020 - Photo by Sport Singapore)

 

By Gary Koh 

 

Defeated but not overawed, Singapore fencer Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman showed her fearlessness in her debut Olympic Games appearance. That's after standing toe-to-toe with world-class opposition at the round of 32, in the Women’s Individual Epee at the Makuhari Messe Hall this morning.

The 21-year-old, who is the lowest ranked at 207 in the 34-fencer field, defied the odds, to first defeat Hong Kong’s Lin Yik Hei Coco 15-11 in the opening round of 64. But 2 hours later, the SEA Games Gold medallist was beaten by top-ranked Romanian Ana Maria Popescu, 10-15 in the final moments of their bout. 

Having booked her ticket to the Games by topping the qualifiers in April in Uzbekistan, Kiria was determined to extend her advantage against world number 90 Lin in their head-to-head record. That's after having previously defeated her opponent 4-3 in a group fixture at the Asian Fencing Championships on 17 June 2017.

000_9FT27B(Kiria Tikanah competing in round of 64 against Lin at Tokyo 2020 - Photo by Sport Singapore)

 

In today's rematch, the Singaporean fencer overcame an early two-point deficit with three successive hits to edge 3-2 at the end of the first three-minute period.  There was no stopping her thereafter, as Kiria racked up the points to extend her advantage to 9-6 at the second period. She endured a spirited tit-for-tat exchange with her opponent, before sealing her final two points at the end to prevail 15-11.

000_9FT27R(Kiria Tikanah competing in round of 64 against Lin at Tokyo 2020 - Photo by Sport Singapore)

 

Kiria’s reward for defeating Lin saw her come up against 2nd seed Popescu, who is fencing in her 5th Olympic Games, and had previously won an Individual Silver medal in this event at Beijing 2008. Despite the gap of 206 world ranking places between them, the Singaporean was undaunted by the task as she kept up with her established opponent until the final seconds.

Kiria drew first blood midway in the first 3-min period, only for the 36-year-old veteran to draw level shortly after. The Olympic debutant then took the lead again with 35 seconds remaining to take a 2-1 lead. But Popescu’s experience saw her exploit gaps in the young upstart’s moves to take control at the end of the first period and a 3-2 lead. 

FCA_4979(Kiria Tikanah competing in round of 32 against Popescu at Tokyo 2020 - Photo by Sport Singapore)

 

The Romanian went on to open up an early 3-point gap in the 2nd period and was leading 5-2 midway. But Kiria kept plugging away and tried to reduce the deficit. She did pick up 2 points by the end as the score was 7-4 in favour of the World Number 1. 

_FCB0641(Kiria Tikanah during a rest-break in the round of 32 against Popescu at Tokyo 2020 - Photo by Sport Singapore)

 

Moving into the 3rd and final period, it took Kiria only 6 seconds to cut the deficit down to just 2 points (7-5). It was a see-saw battle thereafter with both combatants securing points, in the race to 15, to take the overall win. But with 95 seconds remaining, the score stood 10-7 in favour of the defending Team Gold Medallist from Rio 2016. And over the next 1 minute, 21 year old Kiria, who's been dreaming about the Olympics since she was 7, pushed even harder to bring the score to 11-10 in favour of her opponent and only 34 seconds on the clock! At that moment, the possibility of a major upset was looking extremely real. 

20210724_Fencing_1CY5454(Kiria Tikanah competing in round of 32 against Popescu at Tokyo 2020 - Photo credit: Kong Chew Yew/Singapore National Olympic Council)

 

The SEA Games champion then went on the offensive which allowed Popescu to capitalize on a few key mistakes. And the 5-time Olympian racked up 4 points within 20 seconds to book her place in the last 16. And the final score was 15-10. 

"Kiria's calmness really stood out for us today. Despite scoring a historic first fencing victory for Singapore in the Olympics, she maintained her composure in her second bout.  While defeated, but taking 10 points off world number 1 gives us an assuring glimpse of her future potential. We thank Kiria for flying the Singapore flag at the Olympics and we look forward to Amita's performance tomorrow."_ - David Chen, Secretary General, Fencing Singapore.

21 year old Kiria, who's soon to be starting her 3rd year University studies, can be totally satisfied with her performance today. That is especially so when the 15th seed Sera Song of South Korea, was hammered 15-6 by Popescu in the round of 16. And 23rd seed Julia Beljajeva was beaten 15-8 by the Romanian in the last 8. 

20210724_Fencing_1CY5628(Kiria Tikanah with Coach Henry Koh at Tokyo 2020 - Photo credit: Kong Chew Yew/Singapore National Olympic Council)

 

Prior to the Games though, Kiria did say that if she did get through to the 2nd round, she would probably face off against the World Number 1 or 2, whom she'd never met in person. But when told that should she deliver a stunning performance and take out the top seeds, the vanquished would certainly remember her name. To that, the 20 year old laughed. Meanwhile, to find out more from this rising fencing star, here's Kiria in a pre-taped Zoom interview done on 16 June. 

 

The 32nd edition of the Olympic Games is from 23 July to 8 Aug 2021. For all coverage and news of the Republic's national athletes who're competing at the Games, check out the official Team Singapore Tokyo 2020 website.

Remember to also Show your support for Team Singapore at the Olympic Games! 

Team Singapore athletes have worked tirelessly over the last 12-20 months, especially under strict safety management measures to train and prepare. They've had to step up, pivot and adopt new and innovative methods to train especially with their preparations confined to the Lion City. With no international competitions or training stints, these athletes have had to adopt and maintain a positive mindset as well, throughout this entire journey to reach the grandest stage in Sport! 

Simply click here to pledge a few words of encouragement and send positive vibes, as our TeamSG athletes continue to fly the national flag proudly in Tokyo. 

Additional reporting by Raj Kumar

Topics:Tokyo 2020Kiria TikanahCompetitionsPlay