Hong Kong in double gold quest for best ever National Games finish
With genuine victory chances in the men's 4x100m relay and cycling road race today, city could land three gold medals for the first time
As the "China Olympics" reaches its climax, Hong Kong will launch a two-pronged challenge for gold in an attempt to achieve their best result at the National Games.
The men's 4x100 metres relay team, who finished second in the heats to Guangdong, will again challenge the neighbouring province across the border in tonight's final, while the men's cycling road race team, headed by veteran Wong Kam-po, a three-time gold medallist at the Games, also have high hopes.
Hong Kong have so far won only one gold, in track cycling with Sarah Lee Wai-sze's first place in the women's keirin. If golds are secured in the relay and road race, it will be Hong Kong's best ever National Games.
Sprinter Tsui Chi-ho was thrilled after steering the relay team to a 39.26-second finish in the heats, just behind Guangdong's 39.25. "We are 90 per cent confident of gold," said the Hong Kong 100 metres record holder.
"The remaining 10 per cent will be decided by our baton change and if we can have a smooth change, we should be the champions."
Hong Kong were the fastest team from Asia to qualify for the London Olympics last year, with 38.47 seconds achieved by the same quartet of Tsui, Tang Yik-chun, Lai Chun-ho and Ng Ka-fung, but have since been struggling to repeat the feat.
"I think we need to run below 39 seconds for gold," said coach Yu Lik. "The boys have reserved their best for the final and I am quite confident as they are ready to go all-out to beat Guangdong.
"The baton change will be the key to an improved result and I have told the boys to have sufficient rest and keep focused during tomorrow's race."
In cycling, the Hong Kong men's team featuring Wong, Cheung King-lok, Kwok Ho-ting, Choi Ki-ho, Chan Chun-hing and Chan Yat-wai, will be the team to beat in the 190-kilometre race in Benxi, especially with the return of 40-year-old Wong.
"He is in good form despite a limited time to build up his match fitness and will be able to mount a serious challenge for the gold if the chance arises," said team manager Ng Kwok-wah.
Kwok and Choi will carry the attack with Kwok a strong sprinter and Choi among Asia's best climbers. The race finishes at its highest point, 750 metres.
"There are 10 hills in the 190km course and anything can happen in such a gruelling race," said coach Shen Jinkang. "Our target is to deliver our training objectives and regarding the rest, we will see."
Cheung, meanwhile, won bronze in the men's time trial yesterday and needs a quick recovery to help his teammates in the race.
The 22-year-old, one of Hong Kong's new generation riders, completed the 40-kilometre race in 49 minutes and 32.61 seconds. Xue Mingxing of Heilongjiang took gold in 48:41.73, while silver went to Wang Meiyin of Shandong in 49:02.
Cheung, who has twice won the discipline's national title in the last three years, now has sights set on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.
"The Olympic berth can be secured through a high ranking in the Asia Tour and with our road race team getting stronger and stronger in the region, I am confident of making it," he said.