Angelina Kong Fung-sin thought her chance of representing Hong Kong had gone. Then an e-mail arrived inviting the 45-year-old Tai Po housewife and mother-of-two to carry Hong Kong's colours in Sunday's showpiece marathon.
Despite her age, Kong will make her debut appearance for the Hong Kong athletic team in the Asian Marathon Championships, which will be run in conjunction with the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon.
Kong said she was surprised to get the call-up, although she was aware she was ranked third in Hong Kong after running 2:58:18 in last year's London Marathon. "I was told the team would be announced in December, but when Christmas came and went and I hadn't heard anything I thought I'd missed out," said Kong, who will team up with Alison Chow Chi-ngan and Joe Joe Fan Sui-ping to represent Hong Kong on Sunday.
"I then received an e-mail from the HKAAA in January to inform me I had been selected for the team and I was given just three or four days to accept," she said. "I had already entered the 10-kilometre event, so having been selected for the marathon squad I asked for my entry fee back, but I didn't get it."
Kong said it was a great honour to represent Hong Kong in an international competition.
"My husband and two kids were all in agreement that I should accept the invitation," Kong said. "They have been very supportive and said that if I didn't accept it I would live to regret it, as I will probably never get another chance."
Like most distance runners Kong has had to battle a variety of injury problems, and has weekly acupuncture sessions to help combat recurring injuries to her legs and ankles.
In last month's Mizuno Half Marathon she fractured some ribs after a heavy contact with another runner, but then in typical fashion she ran the China Coast Half Marathon the following week and finished second to Clare Chapman.
Having originally planned to run the 10km on Sunday, Kong had to amend her training programme and enlisted the help of top distance runner Law Kam-fai.
"Ah-fai has helped me a lot with my training programme over the past few weeks," said Kong. "I've been training with him and some of his friends who have pushed me very hard.
"We've been running up to 130 kilometres a week in training, so if all goes well on the day I hope to run sub three hours.
"I ran the full marathon in 2010 when the route changed to include Stonecutters Bridge, so I know it's not a course to run a fast time. However, having been selected to run for my country, I want to do as well as I can on the day and hopefully to make my family proud of me."