Hong Kong came agonisingly close to winning a first ever Youth Olympics gold medal yesterday with fencer Ryan Choi Chun-yin and swimmer Siobhan Haughey showing they have big futures in their sports.
Both athletes had to settle for silver medals but Hong Kong have another chance of striking gold this morning when women's top seed Doo Hoi-kem contests the table tennis final.
"Winning silver at the Youth Olympics is a breakthrough for Hong Kong fencing," Choi said after losing a close final (15-13) to world junior champion Andrzej Rzadkowski of Poland.
"My performance should earn more respect for our fencers. European fencers are always proud of themselves and I think I proved they should not look down on us in the future."
Choi, 16, showed great strength to even reach the final after scoring the last seven points to beat Frenchman Enguerand Roger 15-14 in the semi-finals.
"To excel in the Games is difficult as my rivals are all top young fencers in the world. I feel happiness more than disappointment, even though I didn't win the gold medal," said Choi.
"I am thrilled to be the first Hong Kong fencer to achieve this. Last August I performed poorly at the Asian Youth Games at the same venue and I was the only Hong Kong fencer who didn't win a medal in the competition.
"I was really sad but revitalised again when I qualified for the Youth Olympic Games a few months ago."
Choi, who was ranked only fourth in Hong Kong, was selected after reaching the last eight in the World Junior Championships in Bulgaria in April, squeezing out number one Cheung Ka-long because only one fencer can be represented in an event.
"He is mentally strong and always stays calm," said coach Wong Tsan, who first trained Choi when he was 10. "It's not easy to save all those match points. It's just marvellous."
Haughey, 16, won her second silver medal of the Games after clocking 54.61 seconds in the 100m freestyle final, finishing 0.77 seconds behind China’s Shen Duo.
"I went really fast in the first 50 metres and had to hang on in the second half, which was tough. The time was really close to my personal best and I am quite satisfied," said Haughey, who won a gold medal at the World Junior Championships last year.
"I am so happy to win two medals here. This is a large-scale competition of a high standard."
Haughey won her first medal on Sunday in the 200m individual medley in a Hong Kong record time of two minutes and 13.21 seconds.
Doo, the top seed, secured at least a silver medal after beating Lily Zhang of the United States 4-1 and will face second seed Liu Gaoyang of China.
Hong Kong have already surpassed the results at the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore four years ago when they returned home with two silvers.
Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, Hong Kong's chef de mission, said: "We have made a really good start to the Games. In general our young athletes are reaching a higher level than those who went to Singapore. Sports like fencing and swimming, we are bridging the world's elite level," said Fok.