Wong targets London after BMX gold rush

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 November, 2010, 12:00am

There were high-fives all around yesterday when BMX rider Steven Wong won Hong Kong's fifth gold medal of the Games - and then promised to redouble his efforts to qualify for the London Olympics in 2012.

The five-time, back-to-back Asian champion was in a class of his own, winning each of his three qualifiers and then surviving a scare in the final to claim gold.

Watched by Hong Kong officials including Olympic Committee president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, Wong defeated Akifumi Sakamoto and Masahiro Sampei, both of Japan, in the final to win the first BMX event at the Asian Games. 'It was the same podium [at the Asian championship],' said Wong, highlighting his supremacy in the region.

Hong Kong's Alex Hunter also made it to the final despite falling in the first qualifying round, but could manage only fifth place.

While Wong made it look almost too easy, he insisted that his success was down to hard work. 'It has been a tough week,' Wong said. 'It's not an easy track and to be honest I was not really thinking about winning; I wanted to make sure I wouldn't fall off the bike ... that almost happened in the final.

'But I really wanted to do well. I don't like the feeling of being of a loser. I am happy that so many people showed up to support me and encourage me.'

Wong failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but having now conquered Asia, he has set his sights firmly on an appearance at the London edition in 2012.

'I have won so many big events in the region such as the Asian championships and now the Asian Games, so it's time for me to step up a gear,' he said. 'I will get ready for the London Games.'

Of the five gold medals Hong Kong has won so far, three are from cycling, including Lee Wai-sze in the 500-metre time trial, Chan Chun-hing on the mountain bike (cross country) and now Wong on the BMX. The cycling squad have also won four silvers and one bronze.

Fok was impressed with the work of the cycling team, paying special tribute to coach Shen Jinkang.

'I am a very conservative person, but today you can see a big smile on my face which reflects my mood.

'Wong performed very well and so have many other cyclists and Hong Kong athletes. The coach [Shen] has certainly done a wonderful job. With still a week to go, we have already achieved such a good result in Guangzhou,' Fok said. 'Whether we can surpass the number of medals we won at the Doha Games four years ago is just numbers, what I really appreciate is the way Hong Kong athletes have performed so far.'

Meanwhile, injured rider Wong Wan-yiu is likely to start in the women's road race time trial despite a fractured rib bone from the points race crash on Tuesday, insisting she can race in the 35km event today.