Gi gets the perfect birthday gift

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 January, 2007, 12:00am

Gi Ka-man celebrated his 23rd birthday in style with an emphatic victory in the Hong Kong 15km Challenge at Pak Tam Chung yesterday morning, despite a close encounter with some cattle.

Yuen Long-based Gi also won this title last year and in doing so set a Hong Kong record for the 15km distance. That record was snatched away from Gi by his good friend Chan Ka-ho, who ran 51 minutes and 44 seconds in the Gold Coast 15km last November.

'I was confident that I could win the race because I enjoy this course very much,' said Gi, who is studying sports education at the Baptist University in Kowloon Tong. 'I increased the pace and broke away from the leaders at the 3km mark, but the wind was so strong on the return leg that the record was just out of reach.'

Gi managed to avoid a herd of startled cattle that joined the 2,300 runners between the 3km and 4km marks, causing a touch of minor chaos to the otherwise orderly proceedings, and crossed the line in 52:16, almost three minutes clear of the second runner home Choi Tat-ming (55:05). Leung Chiu-yin finished third in 55:23.

Chan has recorded a number of wins this season and was expected to challenge Gi for the title yesterday, but dropped off the pace early on and after jogging into the finish line confessed that he had been unwell over the past few days. In addition to the winner's trophy, Gi was both surprised and delighted to be presented with a large birthday cake for his win.

In the women's race, Leung Ying-suet decided to run despite suffering an ankle injury in training on Wednesday and comfortably won in a time of 1:01:57. Leung, 26, is enjoying her best season to date and has already chalked up wins in the double digits. 'I decided to run only on Saturday night when the injury had improved quite a lot. My goal is to run a good race in the Hong Kong Marathon in five weeks time so I was taking a bit of a risk by racing today,' Leung said.

Chan Kit-yee placed second in a time of 1:03:27 while 50-year-old veteran runner Gillian Castka finished a surprising third in 1:04:15.