Underdog becomes king of the scramblers
Cheung Chau may be famed for its legends of buried pirate treasure and sumptuous seafood, but it is an annual scramble for plastic buns that attracts most attention.
The midnight race attracted just over 200 applicants this year, who battled it out in a series of heats earlier this month before the final 12 competitors were selected.
In the early hours of this morning, nine men and three women clambered to the top of a 14-metre, cone-shaped metal tower to see how many buns they could bag in three minutes.
And there was an upset as a 23-year-old personal trainer was crowned the men's bun scrambling champion, beating the favourites.
Kwok Chun-yin from Kowloon failed to make the final last year and secured only the fifth fastest qualifying time in the heats this year.
He said he was surprised to have won because he almost didn't make it down in time. 'The buns were slippery from the rain,' he said.
Lisa Cheng Lai-sho, 26, from Kowloon, successfully defended the women's title she won last year. 'I'm so excited to be champion again,' Cheng, also a personal trainer, said.
As the competitors scrambled up the tower, a man cleaning a bamboo display tower fell several metres. He was taken to hospital on a stretcher wearing a neck brace.
The contest was revived in 2005 after a 27-year hiatus triggered by the collapse of one of the bamboo towers which injured dozens in 1978.
It took months of negotiations to bring the tradition back, with funding from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. This year, the event cost HK$1.74 million to stage, up from HK$1.59 million last year.
Approximate number of tickets for the final, held at midnight, given out yesterday, up from 1,500 last year