Let's be realistic, says Lee's coach
Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang has played down track cyclist Lee Wai-sze's chances of winning a medal at the Olympic Games in London this summer, despite her impressive performances at last week's test event in the British capital.
'She did very well in the test event, but those results have no bearing on the Olympic Games,' said Shen. 'Many of the top riders had their own agenda at the test event, using it as either a fact-finding mission or even an opportunity to get to know more about the opponents they are likely to face in the summer. They may have intentionally kept a low profile in London.
'Lee [pictured] is a comparative newcomer to sprint events and has a lot to learn if she is to make a mark at the highest level. She has only two years of experience in sprint events, while many of her opponents are seasoned veterans, including Olympic and world champions.
'The best thing to have come out of the test event is that Lee has almost certainly confirmed her qualification for the Olympics.'
Lee, 24, who won a silver medal in the keirin and a bronze in the sprint in London last week, still lags mainland riders in the qualification rankings. But with two top riders from Asia eligible for each event, she stands a good chance of making it to the Olympics with only one round of qualification left - the world championships in Melbourne in early April.
Shen said Lee's best chance would be in the keirin. 'There will be 18 riders for the event in the Olympics and there are a lot of uncertainties in track events, where luck and talent both play a part. So if Lee performs as she did at the test event, she could do very well.'
A keirin race is a mass-start event with six to eight sprinters under a paced start led by a motorbike. The riders are required to remain behind the motorbike for the first three laps (250 metres per lap) before the motorbike leaves the track. The first cyclist to finish the eight-lap race is the winner.
'The event requires a lot of strength and also involves a lot of tactics. The rider needs to think fast and must have the courage to power past opponents. A minor blunder will cost the entire race,' said Shen. 'Lee is a fast learner and she is strong. What she needs to do is build up even more confidence to take on the big-name riders.'
The sprint event pits two riders against each other, usually over three laps and the first to cross the finish line is the winner. It is decided by a best-of-three series.
Shen was also impressed by veteran Wong Kam-po's recent success in the road race at the Asian championships, but said he would evaluate all riders before making a decision on who should represent Hong Kong at the Olympics.
'Wong will be 39 next month but he has proven age is not a problem. He still has the ability to win at the highest level,' said Shen. 'But I must be fair to all my riders and a final decision will likely be made only in June.'
Hong Kong have only one berth in the Olympic road race, through Choi Ki-ho's ranking on the Asian Tour.