Retired Wong Kam-po in one-off return for National Games glory

Ban on radios means 40-year-old rider will be co-ordinator of young road-race team members

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 4:03am

Wong Kam-po will make a surprising return to action at the National Games as Hong Kong look to use his vast experience to win another gold medal.

Wong, 40, retired in November last year and is now a coach at the Sports Institute. He will make a one-off return for the Games, to be held in Shenyang in October, as part of the road-race team, who have younger members such as Choi Ki-ho, Cheung King-lok, Kwok Ho-ting and Leung Chun-wing.

"Wong's experience is second to none at the National Games as he has never failed to win a medal in four previous competitions," Hong Kong Cycling Association Leung Hung-tak said yesterday.

"His presence will definitely help the team as the National Games is one of our major targets of the year. We want to see Hong Kong riders finish on the medal podium, as we are used to doing."

Wong was road-race champion when Hong Kong first took part at the National Games in 1997, three months after unification with China. He defended his title in Guangzhou four years later, won bronze at the Nanjing Games in 2005, and his third gold at the 2009 Games in Shandong.

"Since the world governing body introduced the ban on radio communication in road-race competitions last year, it will be important to have an experienced rider like Wong to give orders during the race," said Leung.

"He may not be the one to attack for the gold medal, but he instead will play an important co-ordination role in when and where to attack and when to stay in the peloton to save energy. But if the chance comes, we cannot rule him out of going for the gold, as he still has the quality."

But Wong is set to "re-retire" after the Games. "We cannot always rely on him as he has passed 40 and his long-term goal has to be as the Hong Kong team coach," said Leung. "The National Games is a very special case."

Wong will begin his Games preparation in Sunday's Hong Kong Road Race Championships in Tai Po. The 105-kilometre, seven-lap race will feature 80 leading riders in the top group. The race features a total of 12 groups.