Hong Kong rider Lee Wai-sze rising as a major world force, coach says
Shen Jinkang praises cyclist's second place at a World Cup event, which proves she is fast maturing and ready to take on the world's best
Sarah Lee Wai-sze's runner-up finish in the women's sprint at the track World Cup event in Manchester at the weekend is evidence she is fast maturing into a formidable force on the world stage, coach Shen Jinkang said.
Lee made a strong start to the season with a silver medal in the opening round of the series.
Riding with composure and confidence, the Hong Kong cyclist finished fifth in the qualifying 200-metre time trial and made it all the way through to the final before losing to Kristina Vogel, of Germany, the reigning world champion and team sprint gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Vogel, who beat Lee in the semi-finals at the world championships in Minsk, Belarus, in March, repeated her success over the Hong Kong athlete with a commanding 2-0 win in the best-of-three gold medal encounter.
"Lee has showed great maturity in her sprint tactics," said Shen. "From the quarter-finals to the gold medal race, she encountered different styles of sprinters and was able to tackle them well.
"Although she lost to Vogel in the final, she showed great courage in the race. Vogel is a very powerful sprinter with an explosive start. It's very difficult for any rider to beat the German at the moment, but Lee has certainly learned a lot from the two defeats," he said.
The Manchester leg featured the best sprinters in the world, with the single exception of China's Guo Shuang. Neither China's Shi Jingjing nor teammate Li Xuemei was able to make it to the medal podium.
Lee had to fend off strong challenges from Australian Anna Meares, the individual sprint champion at the London Olympic Games, in the semi-finals before making it into her second World Cup sprint final, having managed it in Cali, Colombia, in 2012 when she beat Rebecca James, of Britain, to win the gold medal.
In the first race of the three-lap competition, Meares stalked Lee a few bike lengths back until the bell (with one lap left) when the Olympic champion tried to go around the outside. Lee kicked and baulked Meares, managing to hold on for the win.
Meares took the second race from the front with Lee stalking about five bike lengths back. At the bell, Lee quickly descended on to the shoulder of Meares. It was a drag race to the line and Lee just pipped it.
James, of Britain, took the bronze after beating Meares 2-0 in the third-place play-off.
Lee was to race overnight in the keirin.