Tsai calls it a day after leading HK to bronze medal in medley

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 December, 2009, 12:00am

After 15 years, Sherry Tsai Hiu-wai has finally called it a day.

The 26-year-old backstroker swam the first leg in the women's 4x100 metres medley relay last night - her final race for Hong Kong, after making her debut in 1995.

The 'elder sister' of the team did not let down her teammates or the fans who made the trip to Kowloon Park Swimming Pool to bid her farewell as she chased her mainland and Japanese counterparts hard before handing over to Kong Man-yi for the breaststroke in third position.

Sze Hang-yu maintained the position in the butterfly before Hannah Wilson made a strong challenge in the final freestyle, but Hong Kong had to be content with the bronze medal - their 11th medal in the five-day event, which included three silver and eight bronze. Wilson won another bronze in the women's 50 metres freestyle last night.

'It was a special night for me,' said Tsai, who was presented with a big bauhinia flag and a large hand-made message card by her team members. 'I will really miss my days in the swimming pool, but there is always a time you have to leave.'

Hong Kong team head coach Chan Yiu-hoi said Tsai joined the Sports Institute elite programme in 1995 - the same year he took over the head coaching job.

'She is definitely a role model for the Hong Kong swimmers,' said the coach. 'Over the years, her attitude, her persistence in the sport, has earned her high respect among her colleagues. We have had many good swimmers coming through the ranks recently, but it is difficult to find one better than Tsai.'