Countdown starts to National Games

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 September, 2009, 12:00am

Badminton star Yip Pui-yin is expecting a campaign even tougher than the one she fought at the Olympics when she makes her debut at the National Games in Shandong province next month.

Yip, one of the five Hong Kong athletes invited for the Games torch relay at Kowloon Park yesterday, said: 'The National Games feature top players from all over the nation, and most of them have the quality to appear at the Olympic Games but cannot because of the quota system.

'It is not uncommon to see Olympic medallists suffer early exits in the competition,' she said.

Yip, who has qualified in both the team and singles events, is also concerned about refereeing. Four years ago at the 10th National Games, fellow Hongkonger Wang Chen abandoned her bronze medal play-off in protest against a series of match calls she felt were dubious.

'These kinds of things always happen in the National Games and you have to face it,' Yip said.

The Hong Kong women's team comprises world number one Zhou Mi, Wang, Yip, Chow Hoi-wah, Koon Wai-chi and up-and-comers Chan Tze-ka and Chan Hung-yung.

Yesterday's 1.1-kilometre torch relay was a low-key event. It featured five athletes and was completed in 15 minutes within Kowloon Park, with a few groups of students, who had been sent there for the purpose, cheering them on.

Yip, who took part in last year's Olympic torch relay, said though yesterday's torch relay was smaller in scale, it signified the arrival of the National Games, which was important for Hong Kong athletes.

The four other torch-bearers were swimmer Jeffrey Lum Ching-tat, shooter Cynthia Lo Ka-kay, cyclist Cheung King-wai and hockey player Arif Ali.

Hong Kong will send its largest squad ever to the Games - a 340-member delegation comprising 230 athletes to contest 25 events including swimming, athletics, badminton, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, windsurfing and shooting.