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Monday, August 29, 2016, 15:09

Badminton steals the show on final day

By Wang Yuke
Badminton steals the show on final day
The Chinese badminton team player has a group photo with the students of Hong Kong sports institute at Hong Kong sports institute on 29 August 2016. (Parker Zheng/China Daily)

HONG KONG - Newest Olympian heroes from the Chinese mainland dazzled young sports fans from local secondary schools on Monday, with displays of their athletic prowess at the Hong Kong Sports Institute.

The highlight of the day was the badminton demonstration featuring two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, Chen Long who won gold in the men’s singles at Rio and four local students. The student athletes, given the chance to take on the Olympic heavyweights, didn’t go down easily as they faced fusillades of forceful forehand strokes, devastating overhead slams, and skillful backhand strokes.

Spectators found themselves captivated by the competition but the outcome was never in doubt. Pun Cheung-fai, 16, who took part in the exchange, said he was too nervous to bring his best performance, but felt honored just to be able to pit his skills against his idol Lin Dan. Pun hopes to go on a short term cross-border exchange so he can be mentored by the top mainland athletes.

The Olympians' humble and friendly manner put the young amateurs at ease and soon they were dealing high fives when they scored in the doubles competition, and afterwards, as they took once-in-a-lifetime photos.

The table tennis exchange was another high point. Students from Lam Tai Fai College and the King George V School challenged Olympic gold medalists Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen who won the men's and women's competition in Rio respectively.

Consecutive smashes back and forth turned the match into a drawn-out battle to the delight of spectators. In the last round, the student athlete set up for what looked like an easy kill shot but whiffed on the shuttle and it was all over. Despite the miscue, the Olympians and the spectators gave her a round of applause acknowledging her impressive performance and courage.

Lam Tai Fai College has paid special attention to cultivating promising table tennis athletes, under a systematic training program. A 12-year-old student athlete who represented the school in an exchange of skills with the medal winners, said in a voice shaking with excitement, that he never expected to meet his Olympic idols in person, so this was a dream come true.

At the end, all 25 Olympians who took part in the program wrote down their best wishes for the budding athletes on a giant board. Lin Dan's message read "we work hard together".

jenny@chinadailyhk.com

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