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Fighting feat: Fencer fends off challenges

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Calvin Yang on 15 Apr 2018

The Straits Times

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Joyce Chua is a fighter - and not just when she is fencing.

 

Last year, the 63-year-old shrugged off the challenge of experienced fencers to win an individual gold for Singapore in the women's epee (60-69 years) category at the Asian Masters in Thailand.

 

The feat, she said, was the result of many years of hard work, adding: "I tend to push myself fairly hard, but I also try to pace myself so I don't over-train."

 

Ms Chua has also beaten cancer.

 

She was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer four years ago and, after undergoing cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she was given the all-clear.

 

She credits her loved ones, including those in her fencing circle, and her Christian faith for helping her to overcome the illness.

 

"Facing cancer and undergoing treatment was one of the greatest challenges in my life. It was also a turning point," she said, adding that the episode also gave her a chance to reflect on life.

 

Ms Chua, who kept on training during her recovery, has come a long way since picking up the sport seven years ago.

 

"Fencing is a sport for all ages, so I thought 'why not?'" said the mother of two children aged 27 and 28 - both former national fencers. "I got started because of my children.  As I got more involved in their fencing, I got more interested to learn as well."

 

Ms Chua trains two to three times a week, for at least two hours per session. She puts herself through footwork drills and sparring sessions with a partner.

 

As with most athletes in her circle, she pays for her own training, equipment and expenses in getting to international tournaments. 

 

"I cannot remember how much money has been invested, but it has been worth every cent because I have grown physically, mentally and emotionally stronger," said Ms Chua, who has sustained a few injuries such as knee problems.

 

"A few critics said I couldn't do it... but I think I have proven them wrong.

 

"There were times when I was unsure, and my kids would help boost my confidence and tell me that everything would turn out alright."

 

She hopes her achievements in the sport will encourage young people to pursue their dreams: "I hope to inspire the younger generation, because there is so much to learn yet it can be fun as well."

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.