Storms threaten territory's track and field showpiece
By MIKE FIELD
HONGKONG Amateur Athletics Association (HKAAA) officials are keeping their fingers crossed that yesterday's pattern of violent thunderstorms and heavy rain will not affect today's Annual Athletics Championships to be held at the Wan Chai Sports Ground, starting at 9 am.
According to HKAAA Development Officer Alex Ip a decision will be made on the ground depending on this morning's weather conditions at the time.
''If there is thunder and lightning the competition will definitely be delayed until the weather improves. But if it's just heavy rain, the Meet Director will make a decision,'' said Ip.
The weather is also almost certain to drastically reduce the field of more than 400 competitors who have entered the two-day programme.
The men's mile straight final to be held at 3.20 pm this afternoon should be one of the highlights of the Championships.
HKAAA 1,500 metres record holder Roberto De Vido of Police will be aiming at Paul Hawkins' four minutes 21.29 seconds record set in 1988 with only Watson's Athletic Club's Mike Ellis likely to be able to stay with him.
Watson's top juniors Chow Chi-keung and Simon Parsons have the junior men's mile time of 4:31.17 set by fellow Watson's athlete Pang Cheuk-sum last year in their sights and should come close.
Today Pang is one of the top contenders in the 1,500 metres final to be run at 9.40 am.
With Watson's Elite Squad's top sprinter Neville Ku Wai-ming not competing, today's men's 100 metres is likely to be an interesting clash between the Squad's Lai Tung-sing, Barcelona Olympian Pat Kwok-wai and top junior Kevin Liu of La Salle College withGuangzhou's Lam Yick-chung the unknown quantity.
With field events run ups and throwing areas likely to be slippery, standards are not expected to be record breaking.
Watson's pair Kevin Baker and Fong Charm-hung should dominate the men's javelin, discus, shot putt and hammer events.
Fong is in a class of his own in the hammer, after setting a new Hongkong record of 49.06 metres in last month's Taiwan Invitation Meet, while Baker is unbeaten in the javelin.
Evergreen veteran Yuko Gordon of Ladies Road Runners is scheduled to compete in 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres and, in the absence of Lucy Ramwell and injured junior Maggie Chan Man-yee of the Watson's Squad, could surprise her younger rivals.