Chan puts row behind him to win HK crown

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong team member Chan Kwok-ming was on the brink of retiring from the sport before he won the Hong Kong Open Championship yesterday. And now the path is open for him to possibly rub shoulders with legends of the game such as Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Ding Junhui.

Chan defeated Chan Hon-kwan 4-2 in the final at General Snooker Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui to clinch his third Hong Kong title, but the 32-year-old admitted he had seriously considered quitting before the tournament.

'2006 was a disappointing year for me,' said Chan, who picked up a winner's cheque of HK$16,000. 'There was a power struggle within the association, which has made everybody unpleasant and I was excluded from the Asian Games squad before leaving for Doha.'

Chan, who first represented Hong Kong 15 years ago, was an original member of the 2006 Asian Games squad but was denied a place at the last minute for failing to meet the required training standard.

'I told myself that I must do well in this tournament or I will seriously consider my future in the sport. I am happy that I have made it now,' he said. 'My confidence is back and hopefully I can do well for the rest of the year. That's my goal,' The champion has now set his sights on another big tournament as he and the other losing finalist yesterday - Chan Hon-kwan, will be able to represent Hong Kong in the forthcoming Asian Championship in Pakistan.

Mak Yiu-hoi, chairman of the Hong Kong Snooker Association, said yesterday the new Asian champion would be invited to represent Asia in a Euro versus Asia tournament in Hong Kong in July, as one of the celebration activities for the 10th anniversary of the re-unification with China.

'It will be great if a Hong Kong player captures the Asian title in Pakistan and plays for the Asian team in Hong Kong,' said Mak. 'Details of the tournament have been confirmed and it will definitely be a top attraction for snooker fans.'

The Euro Asia Snooker Masters Challenge will feature the top four players of the 2006 world rankings, namely Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty and John Higgins for the Euro side, while Marco Fu Ka-chun, James Wattana, Ding Junhui and the new Asian champion will be representing Asia.

'The budget is between HK$3-4 million for the tournament and we are delighted we have secured a commercial sponsor together with the support from the government to make it happen,' said Mak.

The star-studded tournament will take place at Queen Elizabeth Stadium on July 9-15.



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