Appel praises weary HK squad's professional attitude

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 12:00am

Fatigue is believed to have taken a toll on Lee Lai-shan and Hong Kong's windsurfing squad who have taken part in three major European regattas in less than six weeks. But head coach Rene Appel feels this is a great learning experience in the build-up to next year's Athens Olympics.

'It has been a busy programme since our arrival in Europe in early April. It was quite noticeable that there was some accumulated fatigue in these past few days. But I am pleased with how the sailors have dealt with it in a professional way,' Appel said.

Hong Kong have taken part in three regattas, including the prestigious European Championships which San San won a fortnight ago. The champion's hopes of adding last week's SPA Regatta in the Netherlands were, however, dashed as she finished second to Frenchwoman Lise Vidal.

San San won the last race of the nine-race series on Sunday. But with two races being cancelled and Vidal having a nine-point lead, San San had to settle for second. Hong Kong's other female competitors, Chan Wai-kei and Chan Wai-man, finished ninth and 16th overall.

'The intensive competition in these past few weeks has seen small mistakes, which otherwise would not have happened, creeping in. But overall I'm satisfied with the performance of the whole squad,' said Appel. 'The team will have a few days of well-deserved rest now before moving on to preparations for the Kiel Week regatta in Germany next month,' said Appel.

Hong Kong were due to return home after the SPA Regatta. But the Sars scare saw a change of plans as the squad decided to stay on in Europe to prevent any problems when they go to Athens in July for the Pre-Olympic Regatta followed by the World Championships in Cadiz, Spain, in September. Apart from the women's squad, a four-strong men's team is also in Europe. Ho Chi-ho finished fifth overall in the Netherlands, while Chan King-yin and Cheng Kwok-fai also had top-10 finishes with ninth and 10th respectively.

Appel was also a happy man on a personal note after winning two awards - Coach of the Year (his eighth) and the Distinguished Service Award - at the Hongkong Bank Foundation Coaching Awards ceremony on Sunday. Cowen Chiu, president of the Windsurfing Association, accepted on the absent Appel's behalf.

'I have always felt that I have been merely receiving these awards on behalf of a great team which plays a major part,' said Appel, paying tribute to both the athletes as well as the various sporting bodies involved.