San San out to make amends

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 August, 2004, 12:00am

Ill-fated race five has Hong Kong hope facing daunting task in quest for title

The spectre of race five will hang heavily over Lee Lai-shan when she takes her board to the warm waters of the Saronic Gulf as the women's windsurfing field gets down to the business end of the competition today. She knows she has to win at least a couple of the last three races if she is to stand a chance of winning a second gold medal.

San San - currently fourth and five points behind surprise leader Yin Jian of China - spent yesterday resting her tired limbs after what has been a gruelling endurance test where athletes have been tested not only by the stiff competition but also by the endless waiting.

'It has been tough on everyone, especially the long hours of waiting. It can be a huge drain on your mental capacity. But San San has coped well, and apart from one bad start, has done well,' says Hong Kong coach Rene Appel.

That bad start occurred in race five when San San was disqualified and penalised 27 points after being declared OCS - on the course side or wrong side of the start line.

She was one of four athletes who were OCS. Only one - Italian Alessandra Sensini - had the presence of mind to return and re-start again. It paid dividends as she went on to win the race. San San, New Zealand's Barbara Kendall and Swiss miss Anja Kaeser all carried on and only knew they had erred when it was too late.

'Sensini knew she was over the start line and decided to return. It was the right decision,' said Appel. 'San San only realised at the top mark and by then it was too late. She said she had not strayed on the course side, but the race committee thought otherwise. This is a huge blow.'

A request for redress was turned down and San San was lumbered with 27 penalty points. So instead of being able to discard the eight points she received for finishing eighth in race two - only one discard is allowed - San San had to discard the disqualification.

'She would have been in a better position undoubtedly had this not happened. But there is no point looking back now,' said Appel.

Leading the field is China's Yin, with 21 points, while Sensini and France's Faustine Merret are second and third respectively (both have 22 points).

San San will hope to emulate the feats of 25-year-old Yin, who has stormed to three successive wins in the last three races and come rushing into contention. 'Hopefully San San will be able to win all the last three races. It is going to be a tough task. But she is ready for the challenge,' said Appel.