Confident teen Tang predicts Asian glory

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 October, 2009, 12:00am

With the supreme confidence of youth, teenager Natasha Tang Wing-yung declared she would win the women's Asian Open Water Swimming Championships at Repulse Bay this morning.

'I will win the gold medal in the Asian category in both the 5-kilometre and 10-kilometre race,' gushed Tang. 'And my aim in the Fina World Cup race will be to finish seventh or eighth.'

The 17-year-old Diocesan Girls School student is not boastful. She has the credentials to make such a claim, having won the gold and bronze medals in the 10km and 5km events respectively at the Asian Beach Games in Bali last October.

And today, her only opponents in the Asian category will be fellow Hongkongers Chan Ching-man and Cheng Yuen-yue. Two mainland swimmers, who finished ahead of Tang in the 5km race in Bali, have not turned up.

'I feel very fit and confident I will win. I was surprised when I won the gold medal in Bali last year, but now I know I can win,' Tang said yesterday. More than 700 swimmers will compete in an event which has been split into three categories. The main race is the Panasonic Fina Marathon Swimming World Cup, and along with it the Asian Championships will also be held. The other race is the Hong Kong Open Water Championships, now in its 11th year.

Leading the way in the 43-strong men's and women's fields in the World Cup race is Germany's Thomas Lurz, who sits on top of the rankings after the first 10 legs in the 2009 series. In the women's category, Brazilian duo Poliana Okimoto and Ana Marcela Cunha lead the way. The winners in the men's and women's race will receive US$2,500. The series will end this month with two races in the United Arab Emirates.

'For the first time, we are having the Asian Championships in Hong Kong and it will be held side-by-side with the World Cup,' said Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, secretary of the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association.

'We have to thank the government for all their support, without which it would have been difficult to make this event a success.'