Heroes' welcome for conquering Doha squad
Hundreds of supporters were at the airport yesterday to welcome home from Doha the city's most successful Asian Games team.
The Hong Kong team, with 281 athletes, won six gold medals, 12 silver and 10 bronze. They beat the previous record of four gold, six silver and 11 bronze at the 2002 Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea.
Cyclist Wong Kam-po, who won his second Asian Games gold medal in Doha, said: 'The cycling team has not only won good results but also a new velodrome for the sport', referring to the world-class venue being developed with the extra funding set aside for the sport.
The squad's chef de mission, Vivien Fung Lau Chiang-chu, said Hong Kong's successes at Doha had surprised her.
'I would have been very happy if we had achieved the same as we did in Pusan, but it turned out to be a big improvement,' she said. 'This has to do with the hard work and effort of the athletes and their respective sports associations.'
Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who flew to Doha to support the athletes and returned to Hong Kong with the delegation, repeated Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's pledge in his policy address two months ago of further support for athletes.
'From April next year, there will be an extra HK$40 million each year to provide comprehensive support for elite athletes in key areas, including education opportunities, career development, financial assistance and athlete training and coaching support,' said Mrs Lam, who described the athletes' achievements as outstanding.
'There will be another HK$30 million additional subvention each year for national sports associations to enhance national and junior squads training and drive school sports and community sports development.'
The elite athletes programme receives annual government funding of about HK$100 million.
Mrs Fung said future teams 'can achieve even better results if the government is willing to spend more on sports'.