Double gold winner, 93, gets hero’s welcome on return to Hong Kong

Cheung Suet-ling says she only took up the sport last year because her daughter was an athlete and convinced her to participate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 10:51pm

She’s 93, her hearing isn’t great and she sometimes needs the help of a walking stick.

But Cheung Suet-ling, Hong Kong’s oldest contestant at the recent indoor World Masters Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, says she will continue to participate in masters sporting events as long as she’s able to.

While Hong Kong has won gold medals at outdoor masters events before, the nonagenarian brought sporting pride to the city last Tuesday after earning its first gold medal at an indoor event.

Cheung competed against two others in the women’s 60-metre event in the under-90 category.

A shining example of why the elderly should stay active

Although she finished third in a time of 25.73 seconds, Cheung was crowned champion because she was the sole competitor in her age group.

Christa Bortignon of Canada, who is a sprightly 80, won the race in 10.56 seconds.

Days later, Cheung bagged another gold by finishing the women’s 200-metres in a time of two minutes, 24.19 seconds.

“I’m happy. I had a lot, a lot of fun,” she told reporters at the airport after arriving back in the city on Sunday with her two medals dangling proudly from her neck. “If they give me the opportunity I’ll go again.”

It was the third time Cheung had represented Hong Kong in a masters event.

Cheung, a housewife, said she only took up the sport last year because her daughter, Lai Yin-mei, was an athlete and had convinced her to participate.

Lai, 58, nabbed a silver medal for her age group in the pentathlon event.

“It was only last September that I managed to persuade her to come to the sports ground with me to try it out,” Lai said. “We had a trainer show her some basic exercises and she said ‘that easy?’”

Before training for the event, Cheung said she had never been much of a runner or an athlete. She has never had professional training. “I never really ran much, but when I was younger, in my teens, I roller skated and danced.”

Masters athletics events are aimed at promoting sport among people who are aged 35 or older. Around 4,000 athletes from 60 countries participated in the recent Daegu championships.