New pool a hit, despite quibble from Olympian

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 4:54am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 4:54am

Victoria Park's new HK$800 million swimming pool complex opened with a ceremonial splash yesterday, but its "incomplete" facilities failed to impress an Olympic diving champion.

At the official opening ceremony yesterday, two-time Olympic gold medallist Qin Kai wondered if the pool was up to international standards due to its lack of a three-metre fixed-dive platform.

"The complex is very pretty. But I do have one small suggestion - there is no three-metre platform. All standard [diving] facilities have three-metre platforms," said Qin, who nabbed gold for China in both Beijing and London for synchronised diving.

In a statement, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said the pool had diving platforms and springboards of various heights, which all met international standards for training and high-level competitions.

The dive tower is equipped with one-metre and three-metre springboards, and then has fixed platforms at seven metres and 10 metres.

The national diving squad joined the city's finest in showcasing their talents on the diving tower at the sold-out ceremony yesterday.

Awestruck spectators in the sold-out crowd watched as Wu Minxia, He Zi and Chen Ruolin took turns leaping off the three-metre springboard and 10-metre platform.

"I came all the way from Sha Tin to watch the national team. We take our kids to these events to open their eyes to different sports," said Edmond Ng, who was there with his wife and two daughters.

The national team was joined by Hong Kong divers Xie Zhen and Sharon Chan - both East Asian Games medallists - Chow Ho-wing, Jason Poon Wai-ching and Leung Sze-man.

Xie said: "It's an honour to perform with the national squad. We're training for next year's Asian Games, so hopefully this experience will help us achieve better results."

In addition to the diving, a synchronised swimming performance and a 4x50-metre short-course relay race were held. The latter saw the Fire Services Department set the fastest time.

The new 2,500-seat indoor complex opened its doors to the public in September, taking over from the old public pool, which closed that month due to ageing facilities.

The new complex houses a 50- by 25-metre Olympic-sized main pool and a 33- by 25-metre multipurpose pool capable of hosting diving, synchronised swimming and water polo. Both are fitted with movable floors to adjust depth levels.

According to the department, the pool complex has received an average of well over 1,600 patrons per day since its opening.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said he hoped the new complex would help to attract more international sporting events to Hong Kong and raise the profile of local swimming talent.