Temporary velodrome essential, says Shen
Hong Kong's successful feeder system of young cyclists would be jeopardised if a temporary velodrome was not constructed by early 2009, national coach Shen Jinkang said yesterday.
Shen's concern is that budding talents will have no proper track to train on for three years between the demolition of the existing track in Fo Tan next year and the completion of its planned replacement.
The existing velodrome will be flattened as part of the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) redevelopment project. And while the government has promised to build a new one at Tseung Kwan O, the planned HK$200 million venue will not be completed until 2012 at the earliest.
'If we cannot train our junior riders for three years, it will be detrimental to our feeder system,' Shen said. 'Track cycling is growing very fast in our programme and we can't afford such a long period of training without a proper venue.'
Kwok Ho-ting, in his first year of racing on the international stage, and Beijing Olympics-bound Wong Wan-yiu, are products of the junior development programme. Track cycling has become an important medal source for Hong Kong at major games. Cheung King-wai clinched a gold medal in the points race at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, Wong Kam-po was crowned world champion in the scratch race in 2007 and Wong Wan-yiu snatched a points race gold medal in the World Cup series in Copenhagen in February.
'Even if we can have the new velodrome in Tseung Kwan O in time, there will be no cyclists for training if our development programmes are to be broken for three years. That's why we need an interim venue,' said Shen.
The Sports Institute is in discussion with government departments about setting up a temporary facility at Whitehead, Ma On Shan, but Shen said he was still waiting for more details.
Meanwhile, the coach also revealed that Wong Kam-po had virtually secured a berth in the points race for the Olympics following the rider's ninth place in the world championships in Manchester last week.
'The world standings did not change too much after the Manchester event so Wong should be able to qualify for Beijing by virtue of his world rankings,' said Shen.