More behind a's Army trainin camp
By MIKE FIELD
HONG Kong's new distance running queen Maggie Chan Man-yee is unconvinced that the much-publicised split between Chinese coach Ma Junren and his world record holder Liu Dong is solely linked to the mentor's Draconian training methods.
Chan spent Christmas at Ma's high altitude training camp in Liaoning Province during the period the break-up was taking place.
Press reports at the time suggested Liu, the women's 1,500 metres record holder, was disenchanted with Ma's attitude towards her boyfriend and an order to cut her hair short the same as the other women in the training squad.
But Chan said: ''I think that there were other reasons behind her leaving the squad other than just having a boyfriend and long hair.
''Her hair did not just grow long overnight, it had been long for quite some time.'' Chan said personally speaking she wasn't opposed to the no boyfriends rule because ''most coaches here [Hong Kong] tend to discourage us from having distractions like that''.
Chan said there was absolutely nothing to do in the Liaoning camp but run, eat and go to sleep very early at eight o'clock every evening.
''He [Ma] could control his charges with ease. Nobody complained.
''I did not mind the early nights as it was dark and very cold by 5 pm anyway.
''In fact when I arrived there I asked a number of the girls whether they objected to the strict discipline and they all said no because they wanted to be members of Ma's Army.
''We used to have to get up at 4 am for a run of 20 kilometres no matter if it was freezing cold and covered with snow outside.'' For Chan coming from the bright lights and good life in Hong Kong, the iron control and discipline enforced by coach Ma was an eye opener.
But the 10-day wilderness experience obviously hasn't done the 18-year-old any harm with a string of top-line performances over the weekend.