Dennis Leong, Singapore's First Olympic Referee

posted 16 Jan 2012, 03:12 by Krison Tan Kok Guan ‎(SJI)‎   [ updated 16 Jan 2012, 03:13 ]

Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE), the international governing body of Olympic Fencing has named our very own Dennis Leong Kok Seng as one of the 24 designated referees for the Fencing sport in the 2012 London Olympic Games.


He is the first Singaporean to be nominated in the capacity of a sporting official – referee, at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Follow The Play Times as we engage Dennis Leong in a bout. En garde!


Fencing is a family of combat sports using bladed weapons. It came of age as a sport in the 19th century. A tense, compelling battle of wits and technique, the sport of Fencing is divided into three weapons: Foil, Sabre and Épée. It is one of the only four sports to have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games.


Dennis Leong was once a national fencer himself, having represented Singapore in various competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games and 2006’s South East Asia Fencing Championships. The 30 year old stepped into the tense and yet compelling world of Fencing back in 1994, when studying as a Secondary One student in Tanglin Secondary School.


When asked why he chose Fencing over the other more popular sports in Singapore at that time, Dennis simply said, “At that time, I wanted a sport which is unique and different from the other usual sports. So, I chosen Fencing as it was a niche sport at that time.”


Today, Fencing is fast becoming a popular sport in Singapore in comparison to the time when Dennis first started fencing. The 2010 Youth Olympics Games held in Singapore also contributed significantly, bringing to the numbers of fencers and standard of Fencing in Singapore to another level.


While he was competitively fencing, Dennis believed that a high refereeing standard would contribute to and improve the standard of Fencing. What started out as an earnest quest to improve his own performance by better understanding the rules of Fencing ultimately became his calling.


In 2006, when the opportunity came in the form of the International Refereeing Examination in Bangkok, Dennis took and passed the stringent examination conducted by the FIE; certified to referee in the Foil and Épée weapon category. Since then, he had actively presided in many international Fencing competitions.


Dennis was assigned a host of high profile international competitions including  World Cups, Grand Prix and World Championships. In Dennis’ own words, “In each international competition that I preside over, I try to improve my refereeing standard from the last. For the past 5 years I have set myself a target to be one of the best fencing referees to be selected to preside in the Olympics.”


After leaving the Fencing scene as an athlete last competing in the 2007 SEA Games, Dennis also started coaching Fencing full-time apart from refereeing. He combines a background of competitive Fencing with valuable refereeing experience to provide tremendous insight and knowledge to students.


As an international referee, Dennis arranges his work and coaching commitment around the competition schedules, which normally lasts for about 1 to 2 weeks on average. Currently, Dennis coaches Fencing under his company, SportivA.


For Dennis, one of the greatest officiating accomplishments came when he was appointed the main referee in the finals of the World Fencing Championships 2010 held in Catania, Italy. “It was my biggest achievement. The experience of refereeing the Gold medal match in front of thousands spectators and live on television was surreal.”


His hard work has paid off handsomely indeed. Be sure to watch out for Dennis Leong at his biggest achievement yet; refereeing at the 2012 London Olympic Games!

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