Hong Kong to send its biggest squad yet to Asian Games in Incheon
City will send its biggest squad yet for this year's Asian Games - more than 600 - hoping to surpass the record medal haul set in 2010
Hong Kong will send their largest Asian Games delegation to the Incheon extravaganza with the squad expected to top 600 members.
Although the size of the delegation will not be finalised until August, a month before the Games begin, officials are confident Hong Kong will have the depth of talent to mount serious challenges at the region's biggest multi-sport games.
"We are waiting for confirmation from several sports on the numbers as their squad may still change, but the delegation will be over 600 members, with at least two-thirds of them being athletes," said Hong Kong Olympic committee honorary secretary Pang Chung. "We are happy to see more athletes represent Hong Kong at regional level striving for international honours."
Hong Kong were represented by a 547-strong delegation (of which 397 were athletes) for the last Games in Guangzhou four years ago. They took part in 34 of the 42 sports on offer, returning with eight gold, 15 silver and 17 bronze medals, which was also their best Asiad result.
Although the Games organisers have reduced the number of programmes from 42 in Guangzhou to Incheon's 36, Hong Kong will still be represented in 28 sports, with many of the ball-sport teams sending both men's and women's squads.
"The squad is bigger also because there are more team sports at Incheon," said Pang.
Basketball, soccer, water polo and volleyball, which were only represented by men's teams at the last Games, will also see their women's teams compete in Incheon. Other team sports to be represented include cricket, rugby sevens and handball.
"Our women's team have been making steady progress and they should get a chance to prove themselves," said Marina Tsui Wai-fan, vice-president of the Volleyball Association.
"We understand sport in Hong Kong is result-oriented, but it is difficult to raise our level if we don't even get the chance to compete against the best in the region. The coming Asian Games will be a good opportunity and we are happy to have the chance."
Volleyball will be sending four teams to Incheon as there are also men's and women's beach volleyball teams.
Meanwhile, cycling, carrying much of Hong Kong's medal hopes, has replaced two of their ineligible women's pursuit team members with Leung Po-yee and her younger sister Leung Wing-yee.
Former mainlanders Yang Qianyu and Pang Yao have been ruled out as they do not yet meet the required seven-year residency rule for processing their Hong Kong passports.