Windsurfer Ho spurns chance of easy money by opting for top class

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 November, 2009, 12:00am
 

Windsurfer Ho Chi-ho would almost certainly have won the gold medal - and a HK$100,000 reward - had he opted to take part in the Mistral-class event at the East Asian Games; instead he has decided to test his skills in the more competitive RS:X class.

'RS:X is contested at the Olympic Games and therefore many of the top athletes prefer RS:X to Mistral. It would definitely be easier to win a gold in Mistral.' said Ho, who along with teammate Chan King-yin will compete against boardsailors from China, Japan and South Korea.

'They are all tough opponents and difficult to handle, although we have a slight advantage because it is our home course,' Ho said.

Four disciplines will be staged in the sport - the men and women's RS:X and the men's heavy and lightweight Mistral. A local winner stands to gain HK$100,000 under the Sports Institute's incentives scheme.

Ho won the Hong Kong circuit race in Stanley yesterday as the final build-up to the East Asian Games, but faced tough competition from Japan's Makato Tomizawa as both carried the same penalty points after four races. Ho clinched the title only as winner of the last race. Tomizawa is one of the two Japanese representatives at the Games and has spent a whole week in Hong Kong to get used to the course.

Cheng Kwok-fai, who lost in the selection trials to Ho and Chan, will compete on the lightweight Mistral. Cheng said it took him six weeks to prepare as he changed from RS:X.

'It will be a bit difficult to adapt back to RS:X at the Asian Championships [which take place in Shanwei, Guangdong, after the Games] and I need to work very hard on that,' Cheng said.

Boardsailing will take place in Stanley Bay, where the Hong Kong team do most of their training. But head coach Rene Appel said it would not be easy despite the advantage. 'In theory, we have the advantage as we have sailed here for many years, but it is also because of this that we have learned the conditions in Stanley are so unpredictable and it doesn't matter how long you have sailed here,' said the coach. 'But still we are holding certain advantages as the hosts, and every athlete from Hong Kong is targeting a medal.'

In the women's RS:X, Vicky Chan Wai-kei will team up with youngster Chan Hei-man. They can expect a strong challenge from mainlander Chen Peina, who beat the two Hong Kong boardsailors at the recent National Games.

Chan Hei-man, who won a gold medal at the ISAF world youth championships in Brazil in July, is one of five people who will light the Games cauldron at the opening ceremony on Saturday. Two others confirmed for the lighting ceremony are former Olympic boardsailing champion Lee Lai-shan and cyclist Wong Kam-po.

'It is an honour as Lee is also one of the five,' said Chan Hei-man, 18. 'I have read many reports saying it will be a great opening ceremony and I am really look forward to it.'

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