Cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze gets top prize at sport 'Oscars'
Cycling star rewarded for a magnificent 2012 with top prize at Hong Kong sport's 'Oscars'
It was no surprise when cycling star Sarah Lee Wai-sze walked on stage to receive her Bank of China Best of the Best Sports Stars Award for 2012 from the hands of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor last night.
At the annual presentation at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, the world-class track sprinter won the most votes among eight sports stars of the year, selected through a voting system involving the public, media and the sport community. It was her first major title at Hong Kong sport's "Oscars".
The seven other winners were Jiang Tianyi (table tennis), Yip Pui-yin (badminton), Yu Chui-yee (wheelchair fencing), Wong Ka-man (sports for intellectually disabled - table tennis), Ng On-yee (snooker), Geng Xiaoling (wushu) and Hayley Chan Hei-man (windsurfing).
It is the sixth time a cyclist has won the top honour following Wong Kam-po (three times), Steven Wong and Kwok Ho-ting, showcasing the success of the sport under head coach Shen Jinkang.
"This is a great recognition, not only from the sport community but also the general public," said the 25-year-old, whose previous best at the awards was in the potential stars category in 2010.
"The Olympic Games is only held every four years, but I hope I can achieve good results every year in future. In fact, every time I miss out on a gold medal, it means there is still room for improvement."
Lee, who has just returned from India where she won two Asian Championship gold medals, paid tribute to coach Shen.
"It's his hard work that has turned an ordinary girl from a housing estate into a world champion. It's like a great composer has written a song for me," said Lee, who won bronze in the women's keirin at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Lee said she wanted to share the honour with Wong Kam-po, who received the Sportsmanship award in his last year as an athlete. "I would have liked to have seen Kam-po win the Best of the Best award, as 2012 is his last year in a career of over 20 years, while I still have a lot time in future."
Wong, now a coach of the Hong Kong team following his retirement late last year, said he was happy to move on.
"Ever since I first won my Junior Stars award in 1992, I wanted to help cycling become a competitive sport. Over the years, with the hard work of a lot of people, we have been making good progress," Wong said. "Now I am not an athlete any more, but I am still very happy I can play another role in helping my beloved sport."
But Wong was disappointed not to see up-and-coming cyclist Leung Chun-wing win anything - the 19-year-old 2012 world junior champion failed to get one of the six Junior Stars awards.
Leung could not attend the presentation because he is at the Asian Championships and, according to the rules, all winners have to be present at the ceremony. "The organisers should have flown to India to present him with the award if he won it," Wong said.
Best of the Best Sports Stars Award
Sarah Lee Wai-sze (cycling)
Sports Stars Awards
Sarah Lee Wai-sze (cycling); Jiang Tianyi (table tennis); Yip Pui-yin (badminton); Yu Chui-yee (wheelchair fencing); Wong Ka-man (sports for intellectually disabled - table tennis); Ng On-yee (snooker); Geng Xiaoling (wushu); Hayley Chan Hei-man (windsurfing).
Junior Stars Awards
Ng Ka-long (badminton); Chu Ka-mong (fencing); Ho Ka-po (squash); Tang Wai-lok (sports for intellectually disabled - swimming); Chan Cheuk-lam (wushu); Michael Cheng Chun-leung (windsurfing)
Team Only Sports Award
Men's rugby sevens team
Team Event Awards
Women's wheelchair fencing team; Men's ten-pin bowling team of five
Potential Stars Awards
Ng Wing-nam (table tennis); Chung Yuet-yee (windsurfing); Nicholas Choi (fencing); Tam Chik-sum (wheelchair fencing)
Sportsmanship Stars Award
Wong Kam-po (cycling)