Athletes take over baton in HK's Games gold rush
By MIKE FIELD
IT was the athletes' turn to spearhead Hongkong's gold rush at the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia, yesterday following the heroics of their teammates in the pool.
The track and field team's five gold medals yesterday brought to 27 the territory's gold medal tally - easily the best of the 15 overseas nations taking part in the sports festival.
A silver and two bronze medals were added for good measure by the athletes, who took up the baton after Hongkong's swimmers had landed a huge haul of 15 golds.
Top woman swimmer Robyn Lamsam went on a record-breaking spree to lead the way with five victories, almost matched by Heidi Wong and Billy Kwok who had four apiece. Brendan Leung and Katie Lau weighed in with a gold each in the pool.
On yesterday's second day at the track Ma Yuet won the men's triple jump with a leap of 15.61 metres, breaking the Games record by 70 centimetres - still well well short of his 16.12 Hongkong record set two years ago.
It was Ma's third victory in the event on international trips this year, following his successes in Bangkok and at Taipei.
His Watson's club teammate Justina Ng sprinted to 100 metres gold in 12.08 seconds and added a bronze with a 60.20 seconds 400 metres.
It was a welcome return to form for Ng, who is Hongkong record holder for both 100 metres (11.94) and 200 metres (24.60), in what had been a lean season to date after she suffered a pulled calf muscle early on.
Li Chun-nei, also of Watson's and primarily a long jumper and triple jumper, demonstrated her versatility by clearing 1.55 metres to equal the Games record and win the women's high jump. She also took bronze in the women's 100 metres hurdles, clocking 15.20 seconds.
Her adaptability was more than matched by Sher Cheung Suet-yee, taking gold in the women's 100 metres hurdles (14.44), silver in high jump (1.50 metres) and bronze in the 100 metres (12.44 seconds).
The eight-strong track and field squad, which is being led by Hongkong Sports Institute head coach Garry Brown, features Watson's Elite Programme athletes, who are competing together for the first time.
The Programme's long distance running coach, veteran competitor Winnie Ng Lai-chu, set a perfect example for her charges by adding to the gold medal tally with a comfortable win in the women's 1,000 metres, clocking 38 minutes and 04 seconds.
Ng, who represented Hongkong in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games inaugural women's marathon, holds the Hongkong record for the women's 5,000 metres in a time of 17:28:4.
There were further encouraging signs from the Hongkong development squad in the rugby competition, where, despite a 47-13 defeat by Papua New Guinea, the territory's team gave a good account of themselves and gained more valuable experience.
The successful Hongkong squad will return to the territory on Monday evening after the Games close.