Hong Kong's elite athletes meet mainland's world champions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 September, 2003, 12:00am

China's World Champions inspired Hong Kong's elite athletes when the locals visited Beijing earlier this month.

A group of 27 athletes visited the Chinese capital to study various aspects of modern China, including its sports culture, political system, customs and preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Former world champions Deng Yaping (table tennis) and Li Lingwei (badminton) told Hong Kong athletes how they reached the top of their respective sports.

Deng and Li are both members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG).

Tour member, young table-tennis player Wong Ching, once beat Deng in a freak result at the 1997 Shanghai National Games. Deng remembered her, said Wong.

Wong asked her former opponent why she was still involved in sports after retirement.

'She said her success in sport was a result of combined efforts from many people including coaches and teammates, as well as the country's 1.3 billion people, who gave her unconditional support,' said Wong, a full-time student at the Institute of Vocational Education.

'She said serving the community was important, and reminded us to help each other as athletes so that we can do our best for Hong Kong,'' said Wong, a team bronze medallist at the 1998 Asian Games.

After speaking to her role model Deng, Wong said she felt differently about being an elite athlete. 'I consider myself not only an athlete of a particular sport, but an athlete of Hong Kong,'' said Wong, who coaches juniors in the local community. 'It was a very worthwhile trip. I made lots of new friends in various sports.''

The tour, from September 15-19, was organised by the Hong Kong Sports Development Board and was funded by the Commission on Youth. During the tour the group also visited the offices of the BOCOG and CPPCC, Beijing University, and the National Sports Training Centre in Laoshan.