Au aims to be on guard in London
The first fencer to win a Hong Kong Sports Stars Award, Au Sin-ying, has her sights firmly set on the London Olympic Games next year.
'The Asian Games were fantastic but it is all over now,' said the 21-year-old Baptist University student. 'I want to build on the success in Guangzhou and test myself against the world's best at the Olympics.'
Against the odds, Au clinched an individual silver and a team bronze in the women's sabre at the Guangzhou Games. Hong Kong had not won a fencing silver medal at the Asiad prior to Au's performance, nor had any fencer clinched the Sports Star title since the awards' inception in 1987.
'It is a great honour to become the first Sports Star from fencing,' she said. 'A great recognition of my performance and the sport.
'I had never thought of winning it until I heard my name announced at the presentation.'
Au was among the eight Sports Stars for 2010 revealed earlier this week, the only one not a gold medallist at the Asian Games or Asian Para Games. But her victories over Zhu Min, currently number 10 in the world, and over Tan Xue, former world champion and two-time Olympic medallist, remained a highlight among the exploits of the 400-strong Hong Kong delegation.
'Perhaps it is because they want to push me to work harder,' Au said. 'The Olympic qualifiers will be very tough, as only the world's top 12 can gain direct entry to London. But there will be another Olympic ticket available for the highest ranked fencer from the continent, and I want to make it through this way.'
Au, currently 51st in the world, admitted it was too early to talk about an Olympic medal, but if she can do well in a couple of international tournaments before the London Games, she may be able to score a few of the kind of upsets she did in Guangzhou.
She will be working with a new head coach for her Olympic qualifiers. Ex-mainlander Zheng Zhaokang, the 1990 Beijing Asian Games individual sabre champion, will take up the job next week, replacing head coach Wang Ruiji. 'Zheng has achieved great success with the Hong Kong disabled fencing team over the past decade, and we look forward to seeing him bring the secret of success to our team,' Au said.
After finishing seventh at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Zheng moved to Hong Kong two years later to take up the job as head coach of the Hong Kong wheelchair fencing team.
Wong Tsan, Hong Kong Fencing Association vice-president, said: 'We had a number of overseas applicants for the top job, but Zheng is a quality coach and knows the sporting culture here well.'