Chan likely to compete on the road in Beijing
Mountain-bike specialist Chan Chun-hing has emerged as the front-runner to represent Hong Kong in the individual road race at the Olympics.
Coach Shen Jinkang, who won the Coach of the Year Award (senior individual category) at a ceremony in Wan Chai yesterday, said he believed a strong climber stood a better chance of avoiding being lapped in Beijing.
'The Beijing Olympic road race is very competitive because it features the world's best riders from the professional tours,' said Shen.
'And the course is very tough, a gruelling four-lap race taking in mountains in the Great Wall area. From a coaching point of view, a mountain climber will work better and Chan has a proven record, the right physique and the ability to do it.'
Against some top international riders, including Australian Cadel Evans, the 2007 Tour de France runner-up, Chan came 11th in the 174km Olympic road race test event in Beijing last year.
Wong Kam-po won the Olympic road race berth for Hong Kong, but the coach said he preferred Wong to focus on his pet event, the points race on the track. Wong, 35, raced in both the points race and road race in Athens four years ago, but could not finish the road race.
'The road race attracts a lot of attention in cycling and we want someone who can finish with a good placing to inspire other up-and-coming riders,' said the coach. 'I am not saying Chan is the best road race rider in Hong Kong but he has the advantage because he suits the course in Beijing.'
But the coach admitted he would also weigh up other road race riders' performances before making up his mind. Tang Wang-yip, Wu Kin-san and Yeung Ying-hon are all candidates. The Hong Kong Cycling Association will submit its Olympic entry list to the International Cycling Union in June.
If Chan, 26, is selected, he will compete in both the road race and the mountain bike event in Beijing.
Meanwhile, table tennis coach Li Huifen won the Coach of the Year Award for the team category.
In the junior event, squash coach Tony Choi Yuk-kwan and fencing coach Geza Marffy won the individual and team Coach of the Year Awards respectively.