Snooker and karate tipped to join HK elite after reaching standard
Snooker and karate, both Asian Games sports, are set to join the elite ranks after reaching the qualifying marks set by the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI).
With the possible return of athletics, 14 sports could benefit from the institute's elite training programme when the new financial year begins in April.
'The three sports have reached the required standards,' said an HKSI official. 'But we have to wait for the government's elite sports committee to endorse their inclusion.
'There will be budget consideration as we will need more money to accommodate three additional sports in terms of staffing, competition and training expenses and other expenditure on sports science, sports medicine and venue provision.'
The committee will meet in March to review Hong Kong's achievements in the 38 Asian Games sports, including the current 11 elite sports. Performances in 2007 and 2008 will determine the level of government support they will receive from 2009 to 2011.
Two current elite sports - swimming and triathlon - failed to reach the elite programme benchmark in the 2007-08 evaluation cycle and if they fail again in the next two-year cycle they will lose their elite status.
Athletics was an elite sport until April 2007, but was kicked out after failing two consecutive reviews.
The chairman of the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, Eric Lee Chi-wing, said his sport was expecting to return to the HKSI next year, whereupon he would negotiate what level of support the sport would receive to help them prepare for the 2009 East Asian Games and other major games in future. The honorary secretary of the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council, Joseph Lo Tsun-ying, said his organisation had been waiting for this day for a long time.
'We haven't received any official confirmation yet, but if we gain elite status, it will be great recognition for our efforts,' he said. 'Ever since we won medals at the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998, we have had our sights set on [attaining elite status].
'We'd been doing very well at senior level with the likes of Marco Fu Ka-chun, but not at junior level. Luckily, we've had some good youngsters coming up in the last two years, helping us reach the benchmark.'
Yip On-yi won a silver medal at the world junior championships last year while Hon Hoi-cheung, also an under-19 competitor, came second in a nine-ball tournament in China.
'Being an elite sport will help strengthen our development programme in the long run because we can offer full-time training to youngsters with potential. Also, it will help raise the image of the sport in the eyes of parents and schools as we will be training our players at an elite centre and not in a commercial snooker club,' he said.
Worth the money
Sports tipped to benefit from the elite training programme: 14