Finding space to train can be tough

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 September, 2008, 12:00am

Finding suitable venues for training in Hong Kong has always seemed a challenge. In January last year, the Hong Kong Sports Institute was temporarily relocated from Sha Tin to Fo Tan to make space for the Olympic and Paralympic equestrian events.

The government scrapped charges for the use of all public sports facilities from July 1 to September 30. While more Hongkongers are enjoying the amenities, with exercise and sport becoming part of their daily routines, the move has been a double-edged sword for the Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.

Sports such as table tennis, athletics and boccia - a ball game - take place in public sports centres. The association has had to work around the problem of booking training facilities - much to the detriment of the athletes' schedules. For instance, the boccia team rotates between three training venues in Mong Kok, Lam Tin and Sha Tin. Athletes are shuttled around on rehabilitation buses, only to find that the venues often lack facilities for the disabled.

Others have to ride on buses for nearly two hours each way to take advantage of a two-hour training slot.

'It is a distance, but what can we do?' said boccia star Vivian Lau Wai-yan, who trains four days a week. 'Look around the gym right now,' she said. 'We are only taking up a third of it. We have to contend with badminton and volleyball players.'

A solution is nowhere in sight. Hong Kong will host the 5th East Asian Games next year, and 13 sports venues under the Leisure and Cultural Service Department are being renovated. This intensifies the competition for training venues.