Relay team miss Olympic mark after blown changeover

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 April, 2000, 12:00am

The national 4 ? 100 metres relay team's first attempt at achieving the Olympic qualifying standard ended in dramatic style yesterday.

The quartet were disqualified shortly after both the SAR's top two sprinters had registered personal best times in the 100m at the Watson's Athletic King Championships at the Wan Chai Sports Ground.

Morale among the quartet was high after Chiang Wai-hung rewrote his Hong Kong record at 10.43 seconds, while To Wai-lok, who came second, clocked a personal best of 10.47 in the men's 100m final.

However, they did not even complete the relay as To, running the first leg in a tactical new order for the first time, failed to pass the baton to Ho Kwan-lung within the passing area.

They were obviously disappointed but To said they were not too downhearted because they had considered the possibility of this sort of mistake in a pre-race meeting.

'We knew we might not succeed this time as it was the first time we tried this new order. We agreed that we had to run at our full speed even when passing the baton, so the risk was there,' said To, who was returning to the track after two months.

'I'm happy with my performance in the 100m in my first outing for a long time, but I'm disappointed with the outcome in the relay because it was my mistake.' To explained the failure was purely technical and had nothing to do with mental pressure.

'We are not nervous at all. The main problem is that we are much stronger than the other teams. When I reached the passing area, the runner in the inside lane immediately next to me was still waiting for his teammate and he suddenly turned around. That affected my concentration a little bit,' To said.

The team, completed by Tang Hon-sing, will have three more chances - on the mainland, Thailand and Taiwan - over the next two months, when they will try to hit the Olympic mark of 40.00 seconds. Their best time is 40.42.

'I don't think it is a problem for us. It is just a matter of more practice,' To said.

Chiang was delighted to have lowered his record by 0.02 of a second, but regretted not being able to meet the Olympic mark of 10.40.

'The record is mine and I will probably shatter it again, but my first priority is the Olympic standard.

'But after today, I am confident of reaching that mark,' Chiang said.