Olympic pride is more than medals for Hong Kong’s athletes

Although the Hong Kong team is unlikely to win any medals this Games, their sportsmanship and monumental will to achieve have already won the hearts of Hong Kong people

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 1:09am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 1:09am

As the Rio Games comes to an end, so does the city’s dream for Olympic medals. While we hope for the best for our athletes, we are well aware that only the crème de la crème can take the podium. But there is more to the Olympics than just winning medals. Although the Hong Kong team is unlikely to win any medals this Games, their sportsmanship and monumental will to achieve have already won the hearts of Hong Kong people.

The community could feel the pain when top cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze broke down in tears and apologised to her supporters. The London bronze medallist tumbled and sustained injuries to her knee after her Australian rival Anna Meares nudged her handlebars in the keirin semi-final. But far from letting Hong Kong down, Lee proved herself a world-class champion when she later beat Meares in the second round of the sprint. In a show of sportsmanship, Lee reached out to Meares and rode around the track hand in hand together like double winners.

Letting it all out: You can feel the Hong Kong athletes’ pain as they suffer heartache and disappointment

Our athletes in fact made history before the Games began. For the first time, our swimmers qualified as one of the top 16 teams in the women’s 4x100m medley relay. Siobhan Haughey made a bigger splash as our first female swimmer to qualify for an Olympic semi-final, smashing her own Hong Kong record in the 200m freestyle heats. Tiffany Chan Tze-ching is one of the three amateurs golf players who made the Games. Windsurfer Michael Cheng Chun-leung finished eighth while Tie Yana and Lee Ho-ching went as far as the quarter-finals in the women’s table tennis team event.

But there is still much soul-searching. With an annual budget of more than HK$300 million for elite sports training but only three Olympic medals in hand, the sports sector and officials in charge have a lot to answer for.

Our athletes won many competitions to make their way to Rio. They have lost, but are not defeated. They have put up a clean and good show that makes Hongkongers feel proud.