Interview with Team Singapore fencers Samson Lee and Cheryl Lim

From SEA Games, Commonwealth Fencing Championships and Asian Games glory to starting their own Fencing club, this fencing couple has seen it all

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


He first started fencing at the age of 17, which is considered older than most. That did not stop Samson Lee from going the whole nine yards though, as the 35 year-old finally achieved his dream when he clinched a gold medal at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.


It did not just stop there either, as Lee took it upon himself to start his own fencing club - SG Academy of Fencing, with the hopes of growing the sport of fencing in Singapore, and to groom the next generation of fencers for elite competition.

His wife Cheryl Lim, also a national fencer teaching at SG Academy of Fencing, finds it fulfilling to watch her students progress through the ranks and make improvements over time.


Watch our exclusive interview with the two Team Singapore fencers in full, and find out more about the challenges they face and what life is like as an athlete turned entrepreneur.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


What inspired you to start your own fencing club?


Samson: For me, I really enjoy fencing and I really want to have more people know about this sport. At the same time, I wanted something with my own branding. So at that moment I was thinking, why not start up my own club?


Is there work-life balance?


Samson: This is part of my life that’s why I feel it’s already in the balance. *laughs* We (Cheryl and I) are here in the studio, more than we are at home. We spend more time here than we spend at home. But we really feel comfortable with what we are doing. So that’s why we are happy with it.



PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


When did you first start fencing?


Samson: I started when I was 17, and I had my first three months of training and then my coach told me: “hey, there is a competition” to which I replied “Oh, okay, but I only learned fencing for 3 months.” And he encouraged me by saying, “It’s okay just try lah, just try.”


So I started my first competition and it went well for me. I won the competition and from there I competed more. And I realised that this was something that I am really interested in and from then on I just continued until today.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


Cheryl: I started fencing in secondary 1 as a CCA in Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School. I picked it up and, similar to him, I found it very exciting, because it’s very different. I mean, many years ago when I was in secondary 1, there’s not a lot of schools with fencing as a CCA.


So when I picked it up and it was something very new, it’s very exciting, the thrill of suiting up, fencing, and hitting your opponent. And then as you fence more, the satisfaction of doing well in competitions gets you hooked. So, it’s been like that since then.

PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


What is your proudest achievement as an athlete?


Cheryl: Proudest achievement would be top 6 at Asian Games for individuals. And then to be selected to represent Singapore at the Olympic Qualifiers. Sea Games, Go!


Samson: For me, it’s the recent Vietnam Sea Games. Finally, we got a Gold medal for Men’s Épée. And of course my Olympic Qualifiers to represent Singapore to fight for the Olympics. And Asian Games, Commonwealth Championships (Gold).


PHOTO: HANA BASIR, SPORTPLUS.SG


How has fencing shaped your lifestyle?


Cheryl: In a way you can say fencing is our life now because we fence then we run an academy and we coach. So in a way, I think, picking up fencing is one of the biggest takeaways I had in Secondary School.


Because of fencing, I get to experience a lot of things that normal people wouldn't as national athletes. And then starting our own club, because we really liked the sport, the feeling of being able to give back and then watch our students grow, compete and then do well at competitions.


It’s very fulfilling, as fencing requires us to be mentally and physically strong. Physically because of the training. Fencing makes us always have to keep moving, so it keeps us always in good shape even for us as coaches which I feel it’s like a plus point because for ourselves to be able to demonstrate, to guide, to show by example for our kids that we are physically able to do so.


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