Hong Kong swimmers need to work harder to stay competitive with other fast-improving Asian countries, the delegation chief at the Asian Youth Games said yesterday.
Tonight's closing ceremony will mark the end of the second Asian Youth Games in Nanjing. All competitions were completed yesterday and Hong Kong's 102 athletes bagged a total of 20 medals - two gold, five silver and 13 bronze - in the continental multisport event for 14- to 17-year-olds. Swimmers won just one silver and four bronze, compared with a total of 14 - three gold, six silver and five bronze - at the inaugural Asian Youth Games held in Singapore four years ago.
Delegation head Ronnie Wong Man-chiu said overall results were "quite good", but the swimmers had fallen behind. "Even though it's a youth event, I can see many of the athletes participating in the Games have already reached senior elite standards. Competition is intense," said Wong.
Wong, who is also honorary secretary of the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association, said the sharp improvement in the standard of swimming at the Games was beyond his expectation.
"We can see swimmers from countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam have reached a much higher standard than they had in previous international competitions," said Wong, "I think it's because some of their swimmers study abroad in countries like the United States and receive intensive, high-quality training.
"Our swimmers could have done better. We really need get ourselves well equipped and work harder to stay competitive."