No Olympic semi-final but taking part is triumph in itself for Hong Kong swimmer Yvette Kong after battles with depression

Claudia Lau beats her PB, but just misses out on place in the last 16

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 6:13am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 10:50pm

The numbers on the timing clock don’t always tell the whole story. In certain cases, one needs to look into the eyes of the person who put those numbers up there, and with Yvette Kong Man-yi, it was clearly a moment of triumph.

Having beaten depression that almost saw her quit the sport, Kong’s mere presence on the starting blocks of the women’s 100 metres breaststroke was victory in itself.

WATCH: Relive the action involving Hong Kong athletes on Day 2 at the Rio Olympics

She finished seventh in heat 3 in one minute, 09.56 seconds, nearly two seconds slower than the 1:07.69 she clocked in March to earn her place in the Rio Olympics.

Earlier, Claudia Lau Yin-yan turned in an excellent performance to win her heat in the women’s 100m backstroke, clocking 1:01.27 to improve her personal best by half a second. However, it was not quite fast enough to qualify for the next round as she missed out by .38 seconds on a place in the semis as she finished 19th overall.

Kong also failed to make it past the heats but said she gave it her best effort.

“Walking out to the stadium, I really enjoyed the whole experience and I think I’ve done my best. I put my best out there and I don’t think there is much to be regretful about,” said Kong, 23.

“The time is a little bit off. If I was looking at the time I would be a little bit disappointed. But from another perspective, mentally and emotionally I put it all out there.

“I enjoyed the whole experience and I think that is the crux of what it means to being at the Olympics.”

WATCH: Yvette Kong defies pressure to reach another career high

Kong’s build-up to the Olympics was far from ideal, having fallen ill while training in her base in Edinburgh, Scotland. Still, she is looking forward with confidence to taking part in the women’s 200m breaststroke and the relay for the Hong Kong team in Rio.

“Everything that I could be in control of I did it well and there are pieces that I was not in control of and that’s OK,” she said.

“I’ll just put my head down to prepare for my other two races. The 200m breaststroke is not my best event. I also have the 4x100m relay. All in all, I gave it my best shot.”

Lau turned at the 50m mark in third place with a split time of 29.81 seconds. She stepped up a gear down the home stretch and overtook halfway leader Alicja Tchorz, of Poland, and Seychelles’ Alexus Laird to touch home first.

“I’m very happy to have bettered my personal best time but I’ve got some more events to participate in and I’m going to give it 100 per cent as well,” said Lau.

In action for Hong Kong on Monday are Camille Cheng Lily Mei and Siobhan Haughey. Cheng takes part in the women’s 200m freestyle heats while Haughey has two tough races - the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley.