San San sails back into picture
Three-time world champion Lee Lai-shan revived her All China Games title bid yesterday in Shenwei, Guangdong, improving to second overall. But she found arch-rival Wang Lifang too hot to handle as the overall leader from Hainan consolidated her lead by adding three more wins to make it five wins out of five races.
World number one San San moved up two places after sailing to consistent 2-4-3 finishes in yesterday's races but she was a distant seven points behind Wang, who has held off all challenges from the 31-strong women's fleet.
San San was given a scare as eighth-ranked Yin Jian of Sichuan lodged a protest against her, claiming that San San had blocked her in yesterday's first race, before the race committee dismissed the protest after a three-hour hearing. Hong Kong head coach Rene Appel said: 'The long hearing was exhausting but we're relieved that the results are unchanged. San San sailed better today and it's still possible for her to go top although Wang has kept on sailing strongly in these strong winds.'
On the opening day of competition on Wednesday, San San got off to a shoddy start in her quest for her first All China Games title when she recorded a disappointing sixth place in race one before finishing second in race two. Wang's flawless performance means she can afford two poor races as there are two discards in the 11-races series.
What has given Wang the edge over San San is her familiarity with the conditions in Shenwei as she had spent most of the year training at the venue, while San San preferred to concentrate on the European circuit that led up to the World Championships. San San must have been kicking herself for only having practised there for two weeks in March and arrived there two weeks before the competition started.
The Hong Kong golden girl emerged as the conqueror the last time the duo faced each other at August's World Championships in Athens where she captured her third world title compared with Wang's seventh-placed finish.
Sichuan's Huang Ying, who was beaten to silver by San San at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, was a further seven points adrift in third place. Hong Kong's other two female competitors, Chan Wai-kei and her younger sister Wai-man, are 10th and 19th.
In the men's fleet, the SAR's former world junior champion Ho Chi-ho dropped four places to ninth overall following his 5-15-21 finishes yesterday. China's Olympian Zhou Yunguo of Liaoning leads the 34-strong field. Today is a rest day.