Chan Chun-hing fades to bronze in mountain bike race
Mountain bike veteran leads race in the final stage of 31-km race only to drop two places
Mountain biker Chan Chun-hing flirted with golden glory at the National Games yesterday but ended up having to settle for the bronze medal.
Starting on the second row of the grid, and racing in blistering heat, the 32-year-old worked his way through the field to grab the lead in the final stages of the seven-lap, 31-kilometre race, watched by a large contingent of top sports officials, including Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing,
However, he was found wanting for stamina and was unable to pull off the victory. He was overtaken by Ji Jianhua of Anhui and Wang Zheng of Gansu and finished in one hour, 50 minutes and 15 seconds.
The gold and silver medallists clocked 1:49:41 and 1:49:43 respectively. Four years ago, Chan won a silver medal at the last National Games in Shandong.
After riding in possibly his last National Games, the veteran was satisfied with the result. "My target was to finish in the top three and against a strong field in such demanding conditions, I cannot complain," he said.
"I don't think I will be competing in the next National Games because of my age. It would have been a perfect farewell gift if I could have become the champion, but I gave my best today and the performance was not bad.
"I was able to keep my pace throughout the race, but unfortunately I felt my legs start to cramp in the final stages and could not pick up the pace when I needed to."
Chan will race in the road race next week, trying to help his team to gold. "Winning a medal on the opening day is a good start for the cycling team," said coach Shen Jinkang.
The coach said Chan's next target would be the Asian Games in Incheon next year before retiring to become a mountain bike coach.