Choi Ki-ho puts HK on road to Games
Up-and-coming Choi Ki-ho (pictured) won the 1,336-kilometre Tour de Korea yesterday, bolstering Hong Kong's hopes of making it to the London Olympics next year.
The 21-year-old defeated a strong field of international riders to win the gruelling nine-stage race in a time of 33 hours, 54 minutes and 45 seconds. Austrian Markus Eibegger of Tabriz Petrochemical Team was 29 seconds behind, followed by American Dugan Williams of Sanofi Aventis, a professional team, clocking 33:55:22.
Choi is widely considered the best road racer Hong Kong has produced in recent years. He spent three months training at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, last year and won the one-day Tour of Berne. He was also the best-placed Asian rider in the under-23 road race at last year's World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.
Yeung Ying-hon, who won a silver medal in the road race at the 2009 East Asian Games, was the second best rider from the six-member Hong Kong team, finishing 15th, while veteran Wong Kam-po was 34th.
Hong Kong are currently tied with China in eighth place in the Asian Olympic rankings and according to coach Shen Jinkang, Choi's victory yesterday will boost the city's ranking. 'We must get into the top four to qualify for the London Games and this result will definitely help,' Shen said.
Shen praised the talented Choi, who won a World Cup gold medal in the madison at the age of 19 when competing in Beijing two years ago.
'He is fully committed to the sport and never complains about the tough training,' Shen said.
'It's not easy to find this quality in a young rider.'