The Korean men’s saber in fencing reaffirmed the world’s strongest status on the Olympic stage. Following London in 2012, he also won a gold medal in the Olympic team event in Tokyo in 2021.
Sang-wook Oh (25, Seongnam City Hall), Bon-gil Koo (32), Jeong-hwan Kim (38, National Sports Promotion Agency), and candidate Kim Jun-ho (27, Hwaseong City Hall) participated in the men’s fencing team at the Tokyo Olympics held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan on the 28th. Reached the top of the saber team event. They defeated Italy 45-26 in the final.
This is the first two consecutive Olympic gold medals in Korean fencing history. The men’s saber won the first gold medal in the team event in Korean fencing history at the London Olympics nine years ago, and this time again, it is the first time in Korean fencing history to win two consecutive championships. The men’s saber team event was not held at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
The driving force behind the 2nd consecutive loss is strong breathing. In an interview after the match, Oh Sang-wook, who ranked No. 1 in the men’s saber world, said, “I get along very well with the hyungs.” He said, “It won’t last forever, but the hyungs are so good right now that I want to keep trying.”
Goo Bon-gil, who was listening to this next to him, trembled with a joke saying, “I’ll let you keep doing it.” It means that the seniors and juniors are united without any formality. Although Koo Bon-gil was eliminated in the round of 32 in the individual event, he played a decisive role in winning the team semifinals and final, and juniors such as Oh Sang-wook and Kim Jun-ho followed well.
However, Koo Bon-gil’s big success was possible because of the full support of his juniors. Koo Bon-gil said, “Actually, I can’t believe my body, but my juniors cheered for me by saying, ‘Hyung, your body is the best.'” He said, “After hearing that, I focused so much that I didn’t even know how I played, and the results were good.”
Kim Jung-hwan, the eldest brother, became the most medalist in Korean fencing history by winning a bronze medal in the individual event and a gold medal in the team event. Kim Jung-hwan said modestly, “I was lucky because my colleagues did so well.” Kim Jun-ho also attributed the ball to his colleagues, saying, “I couldn’t play in the individual event, so there was a sense of pressure in the group event, but my seniors and juniors guided me well.”
In fact, this perfect breathing began in London. Koo Bon-gil, a gold medalist at the London Games, was the youngest at the time. Kim Jung-hwan, Won Woo-young (39), and Oh Eun-seok (38) collaborated to win the gold medal. Koo Bon-gil said, “The London member is probably stronger than the Tokyo member. At that time, other countries such as Italy and Romania were also doing well, so the competition was fierce.”
It is because of the older brothers that we have the glory we are today. Koo Bon-gil said, “Won Woo-young and Oh Eun-seok hyungs led the national team even after the Olympics were over,” he said. “It was different from other countries where all the veterans retired after the Olympics.” He continued, “The reason why Kim Jun-ho and Oh Sang-wook were able to come out was because the older brothers persevered,” he said.
The tradition of men’s saber is expected to continue. Koo Bon-gil, who was the youngest, becomes a spiritual support like his older brothers and leads the juniors thoroughly, and the youngest Oh Sang-wook and Kim Jun-ho become Koo Bon-gil and hold the center.
Koo Bon-gil said, “I read an article that Won Woo-young, who became a commentator after winning the semi-final against Germany, shed tears.” He said, “I understand his heart and his feelings were conveyed well.” Kim Jung-hwan said, “I don’t think I will be able to participate in the Paris Olympics (2024), but I hope that there will be a junior who performs better than me.” It is highly likely that Kim Jung-hwan will now play a role in elevating his juniors as a legend like Won Woo-young.
A male saber who is rewriting the history of Korean fencing every day. Along with the holy genealogy of Ace, it continues to serve as a spiritual supporter, and the legend of fencing is being completed naturally.