Hong Kongese fencer Cheung Ka Long, also known as Edgar, became the country’s first athlete to rank No. 1 in the world in men’s foil.
The International Fencing Federation (IFF) released the rankings on Saturday, moving Cheung, 24, to the No. 1 spot previously held by Italy’s Alessio Foconi for the past four years.
Cheung cemented his status as one of the world’s greatest fencers when he won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in individual men’s foil in 2021. Before that, he consistently won silver and bronze in the Asian Games, Asian Championships and the Grand Prix. The IFF assigns points to different competitions, giving more points the higher an athlete places.
Fencing consists of three types of swords: foil, sabre and épée. Each weapon comes with its own set of rules and target areas. In modern fencing, opponents face each other on a metal strip and the goal is to jab the other athlete with the tip of their weapon for points.
Since becoming one of the first sports to join the Olympic Games in the summer of 1896, fencing has largely been dominated by Italian and French athletes. Since the 2010s, however, China and South Korea have consistently produced big winners. Female Chinese fencers Tan Xue and Li Na won the World Cup in 2007 for sabre and épée, respectively.
Tan was also the first Asian fencer to be ranked No. 1 in the world by the IFF. She achieved the title for the 2006/2007 season after winning a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics and placing high in several other championship games.
South Korea has dominated the individual men’s sabre category since 2014, winning seven of the eight past World Cup titles.
Along with Cheung, eight other Asian and Asian American fencers made top three in the world in their respective categories. Other decorated Asian fencers include Japan’s Shikine Takahiro, who ranked second behind Cheung, Korea’s Oh Sang-uk, who is first in men’s sabre and Kim Jung-hwan in third. China’s Sun Yiwen ranked second in women’s épée and Korea’s Choi In-jeong in third.
As the first Hong Kongese fencer to be ranked No. 1 in the world, Cheung has garnered widespread attention, appearing as the face for several high end brands, including Dior and Nike.
Cheung is next due to play at the World Cup in Bulgaria on April 29.