HANGZHOU, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Head coach of China's women's foil team, Lei Sheng, will be leaving Hangzhou with a big smile as his fencers bagged two gold medals at the Asian Games.
"We didn't have the confidence to win two gold medals," said Lei, who had told Xinhua during a training camp in Beijing two weeks ago that his goal for the Hangzhou Asian Games would be just one gold medal.
As the highest ranked Chinese women's foil fencer, there were high hopes for Chen Qingyuan, who clinched her maiden Asian Championships title in Wuxi, China in June. But the 26-year-old was eliminated by Hong Hyo-jin of South Korea in the round of 16, making Asian Games debutant Huang Qianqian China's only contender.
"That was a bit unexpected. She's young and she still has plenty of room for improvement," Lei said of 21-year-old Huang, who beat two higher ranked Japanese fencers to secure her first-ever major title.
"Before the final, I told her just to go ahead and do it. Her original goal was to make the quarterfinal, so she was calm and relaxed after qualifying for the semifinal. But we were still very specific on the tactics, on what to do in all possible situations," said the former Olympic champion.
"She had a huge breakthrough."
Two days later in the team event, Huang became China's hero once again, as she fought back from an 11-point deficit in three rounds on the way to China's first victory over Japan in women's foil in the past two years.
"We were the underdogs against Japan. But Japan were too eager to win today, while we were patient, cautious and prepared," Chen noted in the mixed zone.
The girls then went on to beat South Korea in a very tight final to claim China's first Asian Games women's foil team gold since 1994 in Hiroshima. Wang Yuting, who had very limited international experience before, also made her name as she put on a 1-0, 6-1, 5-4 show against Japan.
"The Japan coach was asking his fencers if they knew who Yuting was," Lei grinned, with the vindication of his decision to include the 22-year-old in his squad.
"Wang joined the team for the first time so the girls had never competed together before. She was like a secret weapon for us, and she was underestimated by the opponents," Lei explained.
"She has very good skills and pays subtle attention to details. She just needed a bit more confidence to reach her full potential."
"Now that they all know how good she is, they will learn more about her and think of specific approaches against her," Lei added. "But that's a good thing for Yuting. She will only improve through these kinds of contests."
Ranked 80th in the world, Wang made three World Cup and two Grand Prix appearances this season, including a 14th-placed Grand Prix finish in Busan, South Korea this March.
"I'm super happy to win gold. Coach Lei told me to take hold of my opponent and be patient," Wang said of her Asian Games debut. "Don't think too much, and just give it my all."
"I would give 89 points for my performance. I could have done better in the final," she added.
After winning the 2012 London Olympics men's foil individual gold, Lei competed once again at the Rio Games and retired in 2017.
"I also have a lot of shortcomings to overcome," said a modest Lei who became a coach shortly after his retirement. "I still have a long way to go."