Takano receives baton to build Hong Kong relay strength

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 3:29am

Hong Kong are banking on the experience of former Japan head coach Susumu Takano to build a strong 4x400-metre relay team.

This comes after the success of the city's 4x100m relay team, who at one stage had Asia's fastest time in 2012 before the London Olympics Games.

The 51-year-old coach, who still holds the 400m national record of 44.78 seconds in Japan, was in town this week for lectures and met Hong Kong athletes at a trial event last night at Wan Chai Sports Ground.

"Japan have a long tradition in relays and there is a lot Hong Kong can borrow from," said Takano, who stepped down from the coaching position after the London Olympics to become a physical education professor at Tokai University.

"The most important thing is to set up a long-term goal and instil a hunger-for-success mentality in the athletes. Even though Japan is an affluent society, the athletes stay hungry for the pursuit of excellence."

The Japan 4x100 relay team achieved the best result in Asia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when they clinched a bronze medal. They also beat Hong Kong in the heat at the London Games to become the only relay team from Asia to reach the final.

Amateur Athletics Association vice-chairman Simon Yeung Sai-mo acknowledged success would not come overnight and said they would be working on a long-term relationship with Takano.

"Our 4x400 team is nowhere near the 4x100 team with a best time around three minutes and 15 seconds. We are therefore looking at two to four years to mould it to become a force to be reckoned with in Asia," said Yeung.

"Takano is a very experienced coach who has a lot to offer. He will be given the title of consultant coach and will visit Hong Kong regularly. We can also take the Hong Kong team to Japan for training camps."

Hong Kong will be sending eight runners to Australia next week for the Sydney and Melbourne Classics and a training camp in Brisbane.

Ng Ka-fung, who won last night's 100 metres in 10.4 seconds at Wan Chai Sports Ground, said he looked forward to new challenges as Hong Kong will start in a number of major events this year.