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Former Singaporean Olympian fencer James Wong dies at 70

James Wong, a stalwart of Singaporean fencing, passed at 70. He competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, later serving as vice president of Singapore Fencing Association. A revered coach, he nurtured champions and Olympians.



Left: James Wong at the 1993 SEA Games (ZFencing/FB); Right: Singaporean national fencer Amita Berthier pictured with Mr Wong. (IG Story)

SINGAPORE: James Wong Liang Hun (黄良汉), who represented Singapore in two fencing events at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, passed away on Sunday (7 April) at the age of 70.

The news was first shared by ZFencing, a chain of fencing schools co-founded by Mr Wong.

The fencing school extended its condolences to Mr Wong’s family, highlighting his iconic status in Singapore’s fencing scene and significant contributions to the sport.

They noted that Mr Wong, despite battling late-stage cancer, displayed the same steely determination and positive attitude he was known for until the very end.

“His quote “tomorrow will always be better” best captures his belief and how he wishes to be remembered. ”

Amita Berthier, a national fencer who recently secured qualification for the Paris Olympics, shared a poignant moment with Mr Wong before his passing.

She visited him at the hospice immediately upon her return from earning her Olympic ticket in the United States.

Despite his condition, Mr Wong remembered Berthier and offered words of encouragement, reflecting his impact as a mentor.

Berthier, in an Instagram post, fondly reminisced about Wong’s influence, describing him as someone who instilled the belief that anything was possible, despite hailing from a small country like Singapore.

Born in Melaka, Malaysia in 1953, James Wong, the former national fencer, later immigrated to Singapore to join the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Representing Singapore in two fencing events at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, he participated in the men’s foil and epee competitions, reaching the second round in the latter.

In preparation for the Games, he dedicatedly practised in his kitchen for months, crafting a fencing weapon from a bamboo pole.

His sparring partner, Ronald Tan, also qualified for and competed in the Olympic Games.

Throughout regional tournaments, James consistently secured silver medals at each SEA Games from 1989 to 1993, showcasing his skill and dedication to the sport.

After retiring from competitive fencing, he assumed the role of vice president at the Singapore Fencing Association and became a coach for the national team, mentoring numerous champions and Olympians.

In honour of his legacy, ZFencing plans to hold a memorial service on Thursday, from 7-8 pm at Z Fencing, Elite Fencers Academy, located at SAFRA Toa Payoh, 4th level.

The memorial is open to all fencers, students, and friends of Coach James.

For those unable to attend, a memorial room has been established at Z Fencing where individuals can offer their respects, leave condolence messages, and share memories of James.

The memorial room will be open on Tuesday and Thursday from 3-8 pm, with closure on Wednesday due to a public holiday.

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