Sporting his white jacket and breeches, along with high, burnt orange Longhorn socks, then-junior Loktao Shing picked up his foil just over five months ago, ready to begin the foil fencing championship match.
After a day of both individual and team events at the United States Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs National Championship, Shing outlasted 40 teams and nearly 700 fencers to stand just one game, or 15 touches, away from being crowned the 2014 Men’s Foil National Champion.
Born in El Paso, Texas, and fencing since the age of six, now-senior Shing arrived at the 40 Acres three years ago and immediately joined the UT Fencing Club. Majoring in Plan II and civil engineering, Shing captained his foil team of four at the national tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee, this past April.
“[Shing] is energetic and sometimes hard to control, but he is absolutely the most understanding teammate,” actuarial sciences senior Nick Franzese said. “He is a great coach and friend.”
The Fencing Club trains four times a week, two days for beginners and two for those more experienced. While training for the tournament, Shing upped his practice time.
“For the two months leading up to nationals, I would go to the gym three times a week: one day helping my teammates, another day doing cardio and strengthening, and the third day — I would fence my teammates,” Shing said.
As the competition approached, Shing mentally prepared for his looming opponents.
“I made sure to think everyone was better than they were,” Shing said. “Since I went into it thinking that, I didn’t have any nasty surprises.”
During the two-day competition, Shing competed in multiple bouts in his group, fencing his way into the top-16 and direct elimination round for all foil groups. Defeating his first three opponents by as few as two and as many as ten points, Shing reached the final round, up against Sidney Leung of Boston University.
“Usually I’m a loud and happy-go-lucky, but I remember I had laser focus,” Shing said.
Although Shing took an early lead in the first few bouts, Leung battled back to tie it up 14-14. It was one bout for the final point and national title.
“I remember thinking that I was really tired from the entire day, but I also knew that I had prepared so long for this last bout, and I was there,” Shing said. “All I needed left was to finish what I started and win.”
In his final bout of the tournament, Shing set up, with foil in hand, scored the final point within moments.
“We were all elated,” Franzese said. “He wiped out almost everyone else along the way but won the last bout in the closest and more interesting bout of the whole tournament.”
In winning the match, Shing earned the title for both himself and the University.
“It was a great feeling,” said Daron Jacob, club president and biology senior. “Especially since we were unable to attend nationals two years prior to last, it was awesome to have our name right back up there in USACFC.”