Shen hails team spirit as key to cycling's nine-medal haul

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am

Cycling coach Shen Jinkang saluted teamwork and team spirit as crucial factors in Hong Kong's best result in any sport at any Asian Games.

'All the medals we have won are the result of hard work and intensive training,' said Shen, who masterminded the nine-medal haul - four gold, four silver and one bronze.

'But there are also other important factors behind our success,' Shen said, referring to sacrifices the riders were willing to make.

'The day after Chan Chun-hing won his mountain bike cross-country gold medal, he had to wake up early in the morning to join the rest of the squad as training partners for Wong Kam-po and Kwok Ho-ting.

'One other morning prior to Wong's individual road race, all Hong Kong team members had to go through an intensive training of 200 kilometres on the road, including Ko Siu-wai and Yeung Ying-hon.'

Ko and Yeung were supposed to start in the men's 4km team pursuit final on the track, but Shen decided at the last minute to keep the same four squad members from the previous round, in an effort to challenge the powerful South Koreans.

In the end they failed.

And both Ko and Yeung, who were reserves on the team, were denied a guaranteed silver medal.

'Other countries might have received complaints from their riders if they were in the same situation, but it does not happen in the Hong Kong team,' Shen said. 'We all know the importance of working as a team, which always comes first.

'They will help the teammate who has a better chance of winning a medal, even if sometimes it was done at the expense of their own glory.

'This was how Cheung King-wai won a gold medal in the points race in Doha four years ago, with the help of Wong Kam-po.

'The success of our sport in Guangzhou has not come from any individual, but has involved a lot of teamwork and team spirit from all of our members.'

Hong Kong completed their cycling campaign when Wong Wan-yiu finished 15th in the 100km, five-lap women's individual road race at Guangzhou University City yesterday. The 24-year-old attacked repeatedly, trying to break away, but her efforts were in vain.

Both Wong and teammate Diao Xiaojuan were still suffering the effects of a crash during their points race on the track last week. Wong was able to get back on her bike in that race and finish with a silver medal despite a fractured rib.

Diao could not continue in that race and needed an operation to fix her upper arm. The two riders started in yesterday's 27-strong road race, but Diao retired after the first lap.

'She [Diao] only had training on the bike machine after the operation and found it difficult when competing again on a real road course,' Shen said. 'If there is any regret in the Guangzhou Games, it must be Diao's points race. She was leading comfortably midway through the race, but unfortunately she was forced out because of the pile-up.

'I feel really sorry for her.'

Shen said he had already started the team's preparations for the next big multi-sport games - the 2012 London Olympics.

'There are some big changes in London's track cycling programmes,' he said. 'We cannot compete again in the points race and madison race. The changes have a great impact on us because we have developed quite a successful track team based on these two events.

'We will now change our focus to the men's 4km team pursuit - a programme in London.

'We achieved a great result by breaking the previous Asia record in Guangzhou and won a silver medal. But we need more financial support, as it is a four-member event. Of course, we also want to do well in the qualifiers for the newly set up omnium event and traditional road race.'