Sensational San San

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am


It was in 1996 that Lee Lai-shan (left) put Hong Kong on the international sports map by winning the women's windsurfing gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics, in the United States.

She famously declared, 'Hong Kong athletes are not rubbish' and became a hero overnight.

On her return to Kai Tak airport, crowds packed the streets of Kowloon and a special police launch was provided to transport San San, as she is popularly known, to her family home on Cheung Chau, where she had started windsurfing at the age of 12.

'We were mobbed,' recalls her coach, Rene Appel. 'People identified success with Hong Kong all over the world.'

So what was so special about San San, who also won the World Championships and the Asian Games before retiring after the 2004 Athens Olympics?

'She was highly driven and very competitive,' Appel says. 'A truly outstanding athlete.'