Teen pair take silver to maintain hot streak

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 12:00am

Form Five schoolgirls Clara Tse Wing-hung and Sonia Kong Cheuk-yee have continued their hot streak ahead of the World Youth Beach Volleyball Championships in Portugal next month.

They won the silver medal in the second leg of the inaugural Hong Kong Tour at Cafeteria Beach, Tuen Mun, on Sunday.

The pair, who stunned top provincial teams to win the All-China Schools Championship in Yantai, Shandong last month, collected their second silver medal on the tour, having been runners-up in the opening leg in Tsuen Wan in June. 'They came very close to winning the gold this time,' said Cheng King-leung, their coach and spokesperson for the event organiser, the Volleyball Association of Hong Kong, China.

'They had a chance to win the second set but had a lapse at a crucial moment. They are still young so no-one expects them to win big tournaments like this, but everyone can see their skill level is high.'

The women's champions were the Beach Girls (Wong Wai-fong and Cheng Mei-ling), while the Bloody Wolves (Chow Kwok-wai and Ng King-ho) won gold in the men's category.

The four-leg series will be used in part to set the local rankings for individual players. Top-ranked players are chosen to represent Hong Kong in overseas events.

Clara, 18, and Sonia, 17, will go to Portugal thanks to a promise made by their coach.

'I told them if they won in Yantai they could go to the Youth Championships. So I have to keep my promise,' said Cheng. It was the first time a volleyball tournament has been held on a Gold Coast beach during the busy summer season, and the girls excelled, watched by hundreds of curious spectators who were treated to a 'surprise' sporting spectacle.

Cheng said holding the competition in the peak of summer was a big boost for the development of the sport.

'Usually we would play such competitions during the winter when the beach is empty, but we persuaded the Leisure and Cultural Services Department that, with the right planning and organisation, it would not cause a problem,' he said.

Around 300 people watched the best local men's and women's players battle it out, while a celebrity match and fashion show - hosted by event sponsors Bolle - also proved to be very popular.

'It was good entertainment,' said Cheng. 'TVB Jade was filming a teenage soap [Sunshine Heartbeat] at the same time, so some of the actors and actresses took part in a celebrity match. There were loads of giveaways like T-shirts and sunglasses.'