On training athletes, Hong Kong has a lot to learn from mainland

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 6:59pm

I refer to the report about the visit of China’s Olympic champions to Hong Kong (“Chinese Olympians set for charm offensive”, August 27).

When it comes to discussions on why Hong Kong athletes rarely get a medal in international sporting events like the Olympic Games, people always put the blame on parents for their choice of not letting their kids enrol in sport. But part of the responsibility for the consequence actually falls on the government. It has not done enough to promote athletics.

In Hong Kong, there are only a limited number of schools that specialise in training athletes in various fields like gymnastics, and only a few coaches with relative expertise. So athletes do not have sufficient resources for training.

Full-time athletes are also rarely seen in Hong Kong. Many local athletes did not start training at a young age, and compete in sporting events while holding down jobs.

In contrast, mainland athletes start training as kids. Wu Minxia, a Chinese diver who won gold in the women’s synchronised three-metre springboard event at this year’s Rio Olympics, started training when she was just six. The 30-year-old has competed in international events as a member of the national team since she was a teenager.

It is usual to see Chinese athletes put aside their studies in order to concentrate on training. Thanks to their long years of training, mainland athletes win medals at every Olympic Games. However, Hong Kong does not follow this example to train its own athletes.

The Hong Kong government has to put more resources into training athletes and promoting sport, with the message that academic results and sport are equally important.

If more Hong Kong youths participate in sporting events, we may see soon see another Olympic champion to follow Lee Lai-shan, the windsurfer who gave Hong Kong its first-ever Games gold medal, in 1996.

Linda Ng Lai-yin, Kwai Fong