Hong Kong women’s hopes of instant Rio road race ticket dashed in Japan

Yang Qianyu fails to win event, coming sixth behind victorious South Korean Na Ah-reum at Asian Championships

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 January, 2016, 10:26pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 January, 2016, 12:43am

Hong Kong’s hopes of sending a woman rider straight to the Rio Games road race in August were shattered after failing to win at the Asian Championships in Oshima, Japan yesterday.

Only the regional champion will be given a ticket to Rio and Na Ah-reum of South Korea, who came 13th at the 2012 London Games four years ago, won the 107km race. She beat 39 riders across the finish line in three hours, 17 minutes and 53 seconds.

READ MORE: Cheung King-lok becomes first Asian champion from Hong Kong in men’s road time trial

Hong Kong’s Yang Qianyu managed a sixth place after failing to catch the breakaway group of four riders in the final lap, finishing two minutes and 27 seconds behind.

Hong Kong will now have to wait until May 31 when the UCI governing body for the sport announces the Olympic qualification rankings, where the top 22 nations will make it to the Rio Games. An individual who ranks among the first 100 may also get a ticket under special provisions.

Hong Kong is now 30th in the nation rankings, while Meng Zhaojuan is the highest in the individual rankings, with an 80th place. Meng suffered a crash during training in Oshima and did not start in the race, coach Shen Jinkang said.

In the men’s Under-23 event, Hong Kong’s Choy Hiu-fung just missed a podium finish after losing to third-placed Mohammad Ganjkhanlou of Iran in the final dash. Both clocked 3:08:41 in the 119km race. Another Iranian rider Mehdi Rajab won in 3:07:29.

Meanwhile, organisers reduced the men’s road race, which kicks off today with 49 riders, from 14 to 13 laps due to poor weather conditions with a total distance of 154km.

The Hong Kong men will be led by Cheung King-lok, who clinched the time trial gold medal on Thursday, with the support of veteran Chan Chun-hing, Burr Ho and Vincent Lau Wan-yau. Wong Kam-po, now a coach at the Sports Institute, twice won the event in 2001 and 2012, respectively.