Record athletics team handed cash incentives
Hong Kong will be represented by their largest-ever athletics squad at the East Asian Games in December - and for any lucky winners, cash rewards of HK$200,000 await.
A 51-member team from the hosts will be represented in 43 of 46 possible disciplines. The only missing events are the men and women's pole vault and the heptathlon.
Hong Kong was represented by only 11 track and field athletes at the last East Asian Games in Macau four years ago.
'Other than those who have reached the qualifying marks, we also want to give the opportunity to athletes who rank first or second in local rankings in their respective disciplines, on the condition their scores are very close to the qualifying marks,' said Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association chairman Kwan Kee.
'This has been endorsed by the Olympic committee, in order to get more representation from the hosts,' he said.
Heading the list of sprinters already qualified are Tsui Chi-ho, Lai Chun-ho, Tang Yik-chun, Leung Ki-ho and Wong Ka-chun; then there are the distance runners Lai Hok-yan and Chan Ka-ho. The women's qualifiers include high jumper Fung Wai-yee and sprinters Leung Hau-sze, Wan Kin-yee and Lam On-ki.
To motivate the athletes to go the extra distance, the association will also hand out lucrative bonuses to medal winners.
At stake is HK$100,000 for a gold medal and HK$70,000 and HK$50,000 for a silver and bronze respectively, provided there is a minimum entry of at least four countries in the event.
The HKAAA rewards are offered on top of the incentives scheme provided by the Hong Kong Sports Institute, which gives HK$100,000 and HK$140,000 for individual and team golds respectively. Silver and bronze medallists will also be rewarded under the SI scheme.
'What we want to do is to encourage the athletes to achieve their best results,' said Kwan. 'We are also considering offering incentives to athletes who have achieved a personal best or have broken the Hong Kong record in the Games. Details will be announced later.'
Meanwhile, the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, the track and field venue for the Games, may soon be reopened.
'We plan to use the facility for the fourth round of the Hong Kong Athletics League Round next weekend, as we have been told the surface defects will be fixed,' said Kwan.
'But we have booked the Siu Sai Wan sports ground as a fallback.'
Local athletes stand to earn HK$200,000 by winning an event
Gold medals Hong Kong have won in the four East Asian Games held to date: 7