Hosts HK to field record team for showpiece
Hong Kong will field their largest team ever at a multi-sport games with a 512-member delegation at December's East Asian Games.
With the deadline for entries completed, the Hong Kong Olympic Committee has submitted a list of 386 athletes and 126 officials for the 5th regional games.
'There may be some minor changes because of injury or some unforeseeable reason but the final squad size won't be too far away from this figure,' honorary general secretary Pang Chung said.
'This will be the biggest squad we have ever sent to a multi-sport games and we also hope to achieve the best-ever results for Hong Kong as the hosts.'
A team of 281 athletes took part in the 2006 Doha Asian Games in Qatar - the previous biggest - while 168 athletes represented Hong Kong at the last East Asian Games in Macau.
Hong Kong have entered all 22 events and will be led by star athletes Wong Kam-po (cycling), Zhou Mi (badminton), Marco Fu Ka-chun (snooker), Chan King-yin (windsurfing) and Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin (squash).
Pang said it was too early to predict the number of gold medals the hosts could win, but was confident they would surpass the 11 golds Macau won as hosts in 2005.
Macau, a minnow in international sport, surpassed Hong Kong in both the number of gold medals and total medals won, clinching 11 gold, 16 silver and 17 bronze medals four years ago. Hong Kong managed only two gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals.
'There are some newly included events in which Hong Kong athletes have certain advantages over our fellow competitors. If they deliver, we can certainly look for a good result,' Pang said.
Hong Kong's best chance should come in squash where they can sweep all seven gold medals. In cycling, the men's road race, team trial, BMX and indoor events are all gold-medal targets.
Other gold-medal hopefuls include snooker, windsurfing and wushu, while badminton and table tennis will face strong competition from the mainland as well as the Japanese and South Korean athletes.
'We are looking forward to a total of 20 gold medals if all our major sports deliver,' a sports official said. 'But that's only an estimation and the result will depend on how our athletes perform.'
To motivate the athletes, the Hong Kong Sports Institute will reward an individual gold medallist with HK$100,000 (HK$140,000 for a team) under its incentive scheme - four times what the athletes received at the Macau Games four years ago.
Strength in numbers
Including officials and athletes, Hong Kong's delegation for the East Asian Games will number: 512