Ankrom looks past Incheon
Head coach Kevin Ankrom yesterday made it clear that he valued development for the future over any immediate accomplishments as expectations ran high for a medal breakthrough for Hong Kong at this year's Asian Championships.
Ankrom and 12 of Hong Kong's top athletes will depart today for Incheon, South Korea, to begin final preparations for the four-day competition, now in its 16th year.
Hong Kong haven't won a medal at the Asian Championships in recent years, and their best result last year was fifth in the men's 4x100m relay. But many are expecting 200m sprinter Tang Yik-chun, 19, to break the mould this year after he became the first Hong Kong runner to go below the 21-second barrier.
Ankrom said Tang had a legitimate chance for a medal finish, but stressed that his priority was to see his runners improving under pressure conditions.
'I will be happy if they do their best and leave it all on the track,' said Ankrom. 'If we get a medal, then that's the icing on the cake for the whole team.'
'The majority of them are young kids,' he added. 'The idea is getting these guys seasoned so that when they are showcased in 2008 [at the Olympics] or 2009 [at the East Asian Games in Hong Kong], they will be in their prime.'
Hong Kong's squad will compete in a variety of track events. Lau Yu-leong and Wong Ka-chun will run in the men's 100m as well as the 4x100m relay with teammates Leung Chun-wai, To Wai-lok, and Chiang Wai-hung. Tang Hon-sing will race in the 110m hurdles.
For the women, 13-year-old Leung Hau-sze will run in the 200m and Wan Kin-yee, Pang Hok-man, Leung Shuk-wa, and Chan Ho-yee will compete in the 4x100m relay.
Ankrom said he felt the athletes were well prepared. As for the next two days before the big event, he said: 'I want the pressure to be on, but I also want them to learn to relax and to focus their minds.'