Hong Kong trio earn Beijing team places after Euro qualifying success

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong will contest all four events at the Olympic Games after winning the men and women's competitions in the final qualification tournament in Budapest.

Tie Yana and Lin Ling featured in a tight all-Hong Kong women's final, with Tie prevailing 4-3.

In the men's final, Cheung Yuk beat Chiang Peng-lung, of Taiwan, 4-2. Cheung was forced to play the tournament after failing in the continental qualifiers in Hong Kong in March.

All three players were virtually assured places in the Olympic singles due to their world rankings, but needed good showings in Budapest to secure places in the team events.

'The pressure was still there because they had to finish in the top three in Budapest,' said Tony Yue Kwok-leung, chairman of the Hong Kong Table Tennis Association. 'But we know they are quality players and as long as they performed to their normal standard, they would make it.'

Yue was impressed by the hard work of Cheung, who scored an important victory over former number one Jean-Michel Saive, of Belgium, in the semi-finals.

After cruising in the opening two rounds, Cheung made no mistake in defeating the top European 11-1, 14-12, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8.

Tie and Lin, ranked 11 and 12 in the world, had been hot favourites. 'Yes, of course there was pressure,' said Lin. 'It would have been a pity [if we had failed].'

Yue said they would now set their sights on winning medals.

'We came third in both team events at the world championships in Guangzhou in March and we are aiming for at least the same positions in Beijing,' he said.

Both Tie and Lin, former mainlanders who both risked losing their eligibility to represent Hong Kong in Beijing because of their inadequate residency status, were given special dispensations by the IOC to represent Hong Kong at the 2008 Games.

Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching, who won the men's doubles silver medal at Athens 2004, have already qualified in the men's singles and will join forces with Cheung in the team event, while Lau Sui-fei is the other member of the women's team.

Aiming for a replay

The positions of both HK teams in the world titles in Guangzhou - and their minimum target for Beijing: 3