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Saturday, August 6, 2016, 17:17

SAR has medal hopes in several events

By WANG YUKE in Hong Kong

SAR has medal hopes in several events
Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah (front row, 10th left) and Timothy Fok Tsun-ting (11th left), president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, attend a welcoming and flag-raising ceremony for the Hong Kong delegation at the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday. (GIS)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is pinning its medal hopes on cycling, windsurfing and badminton at the Rio Summer Olympics, according to Commissioner for Sports Yeung Tak-keung.

The SAR’s squad of 38 athletes will compete in nine events, including cycling, sailing, badminton and table tennis.

Hong Kong’s high hopes for a medal lie particularly in cycling events because of the strength and experience of those athletes, Yeung said on Wednesday in the lead-up to the opening of the 2016 Games.

Among them is Sarah Lee Wai-sze, who won bronze in women’s Keirin cycling at the London 2012 Olympics. In Keirin racing, cyclists follow a speed-controlled vehicle for a few laps on the track and sprint the last 600 to 700 meters to the finishing line.

Other hopeful medalists include Cheung King-lok, who won three golds at the Asian Championships in January, and Leung Chun-wing, a promising cyclist who will compete in men's omnium indoor track cycling event.

Yeung said the Hong Kong cyclists’ most serious rivals are from Australia, but he was confident the Australians would not win the day if the Hong Kong athletes performed at least normally.

Table tennis is another potential field of glory, as Hong Kong is the fifth seed in both the men’s and women’s team competitions, Yeung said.

"If the players can break into the top four, we’ll be very close to scooping a medal,” he said.

Despite tense competition from the badminton players from Malaysia and the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong’s male players have a chance to beat them in men’s singles and doubles, Yeung said.

The Hong Kong government is offering a cash award of HK$3 million ($386,688) for a single’s gold medal, and HK$4.2 million for team winners, he said.

The Hong Kong delegation has settled in the Olympic Village, Yeung said, though Australian delegations refused to do so due to complaints about poor facilities, the theft of essential equipment and the threat of Zika virus.

Yeung that except for some minor inconveniences – such as an inadequate supply of running water and infrequent cleaning – Hong Kong’s athletes are content and comfortable with the arrngments in Brazil.

The Hong Kong government has invested greatly in the training of local elite athletes since the Hong Kong Sports Institute was established. In fiscal year 2015-16, the government allocated HK$410 million for the institute through the Elite Athletes Development Fund. The funding has been increased to HK$450 million for 2016-17.

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