Hong Kong juniors strike gold four times
Hong Kong's paddlers clinched four gold medals at the Nikon Junior and Cadet Open - an ITTF premier circuit event - but coach Quan Jianhua warned his young charges had a great deal of work to do if they wanted to break into the upper echelons of the game.
Li Hon-ming and Daryl Hung won gold for Hong Kong in the boys' doubles cadet final, but it was the girls who made the greatest impression.
Doo Hoi-kem completed a treble for the girls' squad when she won the cadet (under-15) singles with a 3-2 win over Tsui Pao-wen of Taiwan in the final at Queen Elizabeth Stadium yesterday. Earlier in the day, Doo, 13, and 15-year-old partner Ng Ka-yee, thrashed Chin Hsiao-chun and Huang Hsin of Taiwan 3-0 in the doubles final. The duo had joined forces with Minnie Soo Wai-yam, 12, to take team gold on Thursday.
'They performed well throughout the tournament and it was a great effort in winning all three medals,' Quan said. 'They are still competitive at this age level, but if they want to play against the world's best as they grow up, they have to give more time and effort and may have to give up their studies for full-time training. That, though, is quite unusual in Hong Kong.'
Quan said the girls trained for only 2 1/2 hours a day and were hampered by academic commitments, whereas many of their counterparts in the mainland, Japan and South Korea had already started full-time training. 'As they grow up, they need more time to refine their skills and more time for fitness training to improve the strength of their game. If they cannot commit more time, they will lag behind their counterparts,' the coach said.
Doo, a Form Two student at Heep Yunn School, said she had fallen in love with the sport since taking it up at the age of seven, but it was too early to say if she would turn to full-time training. 'I haven't thought of it yet,' she said. 'I will continue training and also work hard on my studies.'
Doo said she lost to Taiwan's Tsui in the group stage of the South Korea Open last month but was more patient in front of her home crowd, and this paid dividends.