Athletics and tennis lose special status with HKSI
Athletics and tennis had their worst fears realised yesterday when they were told their elite status with the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) would be ended in three months.
Athletes currently under the two programmes will be required to leave the training base in Wu Kwai Sha. More significantly they will lose all the support they were receiving in an array of areas including coaching, overseas training, sports science and sports medicine, food and accommodation.
According to the website of the Sports Institute, a total of 136 athletes in three categories - senior, junior and potential - will be affected.
Wan Kin-yee, Hong Kong top women's sprinter, said the loss of venue support would seriously alter their preparation for forthcoming major games.
'Currently we can enjoy exclusive use of Ma On Shan Sports Ground six hours a day for training, but this will not be the case after we lost the elite status,' said Wan, who is attending the Asian Indoor Games in Macau.
'I hope they can at least keep the venue support as the Hong Kong team is preparing a series of major games in the next couple of years, including the 2009 East Asian Games to be held on home soil.'
The two sports have been in trouble since failing to meet performance criteria over a specified period of competition.
They lodged appeals early this year after learning they had not met the selection standards for elite vote support for the period of April this year to March 2009.
However, those appeals were rejected.
Then, after repeated discussions between the government's Sports Commission and Elite Sports Committee, a decision was reached in June to kick the two sports out of the Sports Institute programme. Yesterday's move represents the final nail in the coffin for athletics and tennis, at least for the foreseeable future.
The Institute, meanwhile, will discuss how to help the departing athletes get access to other training facilities with the government's Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
However, a HKSI official stressed that individual athletes of the two sports concerned would still be able to get support under the Institute's Individual Athlete Support Scheme if they can meet the requirements. This amounts to HK$150,000 for a senior athlete and HK$100,000 for a junior.