Record haul 'will not be easy to achieve' at Asian Games
Hong Kong will have largest-ever delegation of 472 athletes in Incheon but face a difficult task to surpass the eight golds earned in Guangzhou
Hong Kong are sending their biggest-ever delegation to the Asian Games next month in Incheon but remain cautious about repeating the success of Guangzhou four years ago.
A squad of 472 athletes and 187 officials will represent Hong Kong at the Asiad from September 19 to October 4 in South Korea. In 2010, Hong Kong were represented by 396 athletes who combined for a record medal haul of eight gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze. In 2006, 281 athletes went to Doha and returned with 28 medals, six of which were gold.
"We are targeting a better result than the Guangzhou Games with a far bigger squad," said Olympic committee president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting.
"But the target is not easy to achieve and a big challenge to our athletes. The progress made by Asian countries over the past couple of years has made life difficult, even if our athletes are working hard to close the gap on our regional counterparts.
"China are the world's leading sporting nation and will continue to dominate the Games as before. Japan are keen to do well before they host the Olympics in 2020, while South Korea will obviously give their best to impress in front of the home crowds."
Hong Kong will take part in 31 events in Incheon, with cycling, rugby, wushu, squash, fencing, table tennis, badminton and swimming being the major medal prospects. But it will be difficult to exceed the eight gold medals won in Guangzhou.
"We have a broader base of representation in the number of sports, but whether the cream of our sports can mount real gold medal challenges remains to be seen," said Olympic Committee honorary secretary general Pang Chung. "The bigger squad is due largely to the inclusion of many team sports."
Hong Kong won four gold medals in cycling in Guangzhou, but it could be none in Incheon. Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Lee Wai-sze will face a daunting task against rivals Zhong Tianshi and Lin Junhong, of China, in the women's sprint and keirin, while Wong Kam-po, who clinched his third Asian Games road race gold medal in Guangzhou, has now become a coach. Chan Chun-hing, now 33, is four years older than when he won the mountain bike cross-country race in Guangzhou.
"The challenge will be great, but it doesn't mean there is no hope at all as long as the athletes are fully committed," said Olympic Committee vice-president Pui Kwan-kay.