Chan says HKU to thank for gaining Olympics spot

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am

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Hayley Chan Hei-man praised her university yesterday for giving her a year's sabbatical which allowed her to clinch the ticket to the London Olympics.


Chan, 20, was preferred to veteran Vicky Chan Wai-kei, who took part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, after three rounds of selection starting from December's ISAF world championship in Perth.


But Hayley Chan's quest started in earnest a year ago when she was allowed to suspend her studies at the University of Hong Kong so that she could train full-time.


'I am totally exhausted,' she said. 'It has been such a stressful month, but I am very happy I have won the selection.


'I am thankful to the University of Hong Kong for giving me the flexibility in my studies and support to fully prepare for the selections and the Olympics.'


That 'flexibility' had its flip side, though, when the University Sports Federation of Hong Kong barred her from competing at the World University Games in Shenzhen last year because of doubts about her student status, although she was a registered student.


Hayley won the selection 'trial' after this week's RSX world championships in Cadiz, Spain. It was the result in the European open championships in Portugal last month that made the difference when Hayley finished seventh and Vicky ninth.


Only one male and one female from a country are allowed to compete in windsurfing at the Olympics. Andy Leung Ho-chun, 21, beat veteran Cheng Kwok-fai for the men's spot.


Coach Rene Appel said the women's selection was particularly close and both athletes competed admirably for the right to represent Hong Kong. 'All our athletes have competed hard and I am proud of how they have conducted themselves on and off the water,' he said. 'I am convinced they will see this as only the beginning in their quest for reaching higher levels of performance and in trying to bring back another medal for Hong Kong.'


Chan and Leung will compete in the Hyeres Olympic Week in France next month as they continue their preparations for London.