High fives, body language and computer-generated translation were key weapons in the contest for the final fencing medals at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Europe emerge victorious in mixed continental team fencing, where athletes from different disciplines and countries combine and communication is key.
Fencers across foil, epee and sabre combined to form eight mixed continental teams at Africa Pavilion on Wednesday in the battle for the last three medals of the YOG. And the ability to communicate was put to the test as Europe 1 team - comprised of five individual gold medallists and one silver - proved too strong for Asia-Oceania 1. Europe 1 clinched gold when the clock stopped on 28-25, to the disappointment of Asia-Oceania 1’s final epee fencer, Hsieh Kaylin Sin Yan (HKG).
The mixed continental team silver medal is the 17-year-old’s second at these Games, after she also finished second in the women’s individual epee.
“It feels funny having two medals,” she said. “But it feels good to team up with the best Asian fencers in this competition. It feels really good to interact and get to really know them and have this type of connection.”
With fencers from Japan, Republic of Korea, Chinese Taipei and Kyrgyzstan on Hsieh’s team, athletes and coaches had to get creative when communicating with each other. Thankfully, smartphones, Google Translate and body language made it possible for everyone to get their message across.
“Communication was not easy at all,” Asia-Oceania 1’s sabre fencer Lee Jueun (KOR) said. “It was really basic, but we had a common goal and we wanted to win the competition, so we all did our best.”
Wednesday’s event was the first time many fencers had participated in a team event which groups three men, three women and three weapons into one team based on their continent. May Tieu (USA), whose team Americas 1 nabbed bronze after defeating Europe 3, 30-24, said it was a nice change from walking onto the field of play by herself.
“Fencing as a team and having people support you, always behind you, is really great,” the 17-year-old said.
Tieu’s team medal is her second bronze at the Games after she finished third in the women’s individual foil on Sunday.