Sarah Lee clinches cycling gold for Hong Kong in Shenyang
Olympic bronze medallist crushes world-class field to grab Hong Kong's first victory of the tournament and underline her top-drawer credentials
Cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze shrugged off her disappointment in the women's sprint to win Hong Kong's first gold medal at the National Games yesterday.
Lee outclassed a world-class field of mainland sprinters to capture the women's keirin title. She became Hong Kong's first female champion at the Games since the city made its debut in 1997.
"I have not been sleeping well for the last couple of months leading up to the Games and in fact I have been feeling more uptight than I did preparing for the Olympics last year," said Lee, who won keirin bronze at the London Games.
"I was really disappointed when my coach did not hug me after my sixth place in the sprint the previous day. He only shook my hand at the end of the race and I told myself I wanted a hug from him after the keirin. I have been training hard for the National Games and although my coach said it did not matter if I won or lost, I knew that deep down he expected me to win.
"I am very happy all the hard work has now paid off. Indeed, I felt more excited than after my success at the Olympic Games because I only won a bronze medal in London and this time I am the champion."
Coach Shen Jinkang said he chose not to hug her after the sprint because he wanted Lee to reflect on her performance. "And today she really improved and showed me she is a matured top-class sprinter.
"She won all three rounds, from the heat to the final, and every time she won it in great style."
Lee's victory, for which she earned a HK$300,000 sponsor's incentive award, also continued cycling's winning streak for Hong Kong at the National Games. They have won at least one gold medal in each of the five Games since 1997.
Lee said the field in Shenyang, which included Zhong Tianshi, the 200m world record-holder, and Guo Shuang, the silver medallist at the London Games, was as strong as that at the London Olympics.
Li Xuemei of Hebei was second, while Liu Lili of Shandong came third. Favourite Guo finished a disappointing fourth and Zhong was fifth.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong windsurfing coach Rene Appel put the blame for his team's failure on the wind.
Leading RSX windsurfers Michael Cheng Chun-leung and Andy Leung Ho-tsun failed to make the medal race in Dalian. "Our men are competitive in planing conditions and if we had had these throughout, I am convinced they would have ended up in the medals," the coach said.
"In the end, we only had two races in planing conditions on the third race day, which were won by Cheng and Leung respectively. The rest was all in light to very light winds, which suited the mainlanders."
Only the top eight finishers after 10 races advance to the medal race. Cheng, who won a silver medal in the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010, came 10th, while Leung, a London Games Olympian, was 17th. Another Hong Kong boardsailor, Gabriel Brettell, was 23rd.
In the women's RSX, Hayley Chan Hei-man was 11th after the 10th race yesterday was called off due to insufficient wind.