Sprinter Lai Chun-ho to race through pain barrier in 4x100m relay
Hong Kong team member is nursing a leg injury and needs painkillers for men's 4x100m relay
Hong Kong sprinter Lai Chun-ho is on painkillers because of a left foot injury but coach Yu Lik remains confident that the 4x100 metres relay team can win a medal at the National Games in Shenyang, Liaoning province.
The quartet of Lai, Tsui Chi-ho, Tang Yik-chun and Ng Ka-fung spent 10 days training in Dalian before moving to the provincial capital, where they face strong rivals Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian for the gold medal.
"Lai has to take painkillers six hours before a race but he seems to be coping well," Yu said. "In the long run, he will need an operation, probably after next month's East Asian Games.
"Other than Lai's injury, everything else is fine. The team have had the best possible preparation and we are confident they can deliver on the day."
Lai is also optimistic. "This is not a major injury," he said. "The National Games is our major target for the year and we all want to perform well."
The quartet will have their first test in the heats tomorrow, followed by the final on Wednesday.
"They are very experienced runners and have worked together for a very long time. They know how to handle the pressure," said Yu. "They are mentally strong so I feel a medal is very much within their reach."
Yu admitted, though, their performances this year had fallen off after qualifying for the London Olympic Games with the fastest time from Asia - 38.47 seconds, a Hong Kong record.
"The excitement level has dropped since the Olympic Games," he said. "But then we won a gold medal for Hong Kong at the Asian championships in India in July and also took part in the world championships in Russia [last month]. Our runners always seem to find another gear when it comes to a major meeting."
The Hong Kong relay team won a silver medal at the 2001 National Games in Guangzhou and four years later in Shandong, Tang Yik-chun captured bronze in the men's 200 metres.
To focus on the relay, Lai and Tsui, the Hong Kong record holder with a time of 10.28 seconds, forfeited their 100-metre runs last night.
In the women's 100 metres heats, both Fong Yee-pui and Leung Hau-sze failed to qualify for the final.
The men's golf team, meanwhile, are in second place after the first two rounds. The quartet of Jason Hak Shun-yat, Tang Tsz-hang, Wong Woon-man and Yeung Mo-tin are six shots behind Liaoning and one ahead of pre-Games favourites Guangdong, who have professionals Liang Wenchong and Zhang Lianwei in their team. The women's team are in fifth place.
Meanwhile, the Beijing women's rugby sevens team have been penalised for failing to play out their final against Shandong last Wednesday, a match they went on to lose 71-0.
The team's manager and coach have been expelled from the national squad as well as losing their jobs with the Beijing side. The State General Administration of Sports also decided to suspend the seven players from international duty for the remainder of the year and fined the Beijing team 20,000 yuan.