Tsang flies the flag for Paralympic Games squad

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2008, 12:00am

Twenty athletes will represent Hong Kong at the Paralympic Games in Beijing next month while one will compete in the equestrian competition on home soil.

A flag presentation ceremony was held at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday to cheer on the athletes, most of whom will fly to Beijing on Tuesday.

Team members will contest eight events: athletics, boccia - a ball game - dressage, power-lifting, rowing, shooting, table tennis and wheelchair fencing.

The lineup includes sprinter So Wa-wai, holder of world records at 100 metres and 200 metres in class T36, and fencers Yu Chui-yee and Chan Yui-chong, who won gold at the Athens Paralympic Games four years ago. Nelson Yip Siu-hong will contest the Paralympic equestrian events, which will be held at the Sha Tin equestrian venue from September 7 to 11.

Yip, 39, said he was excited and proud to be able to join the Paralympics in his home city.

'As a first-time participant at the Paralympic Games, I will take this chance as a very valuable opportunity to learn from others,' he said.

'To show my best side is the goal I set for myself.'

Yip, who suffers from cerebral palsy, will compete in two dressage events with his horse, Icy Bet.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who presented a Hong Kong SAR flag to representatives of the Paralympic athletes during the ceremony, encouraged all participants to strive for their best performances at the Games.

'It is, of course, a happy moment to see our athletes winning medals. Yet what's more important is to go beyond their physical limitations and strive to be stronger,' he said.

The Hong Kong Paralympic Team ranked 17th among 146 participating countries and regions at the Athens Games, winning 11 gold medals, seven silver and one bronze - its best performance.

Patrick Ng Chak-lin, chef de mission of the Hong Kong team, said: 'All our athletes will try our best for the glory of Hong Kong in our homeland.'

Yu, an amputee fencer ranked No1 in the world in class A, said she and her teammates were doing 'psychological preparations' in the run-up to the Games 'I believe there's more encouragement than pressure to fight on home soil,' she said.

'Winning a medal is just a bonus for me.'

More than 30 officials, coaches and physiotherapists will go with the athletes to Beijing. In addition, about 140 volunteers, students and teachers from disabled schools will form two support teams to cheer the athletes on in Beijing.

Hong Kong Disneyland said yesterday it would offer a free park visit to all the volunteers at the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

Volunteers will receive a complimentary ticket for a visit between September 1 and 24 on showing their Olympic accreditation card and Hong Kong identity card.