Hong Kong pair aim to survive 'trial by fire' at Youth Olympics

Triathletes arrive in Nanjing a day early to adapt to the intense heat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 10:25pm

Hong Kong's triathlon team arrived a day ahead of the main delegation as they attempted to acclimatise for their "trial by fire" in a city known as one of the mainland's "four furnaces".

The second edition of the Youth Olympic Games begin on Saturday night in Nanjing with what is promising to be an impressive opening ceremony as the main body of the Hong Kong delegation arrived in the city on Thursday.

Triathletes Michael Lam and Chelsea Hung Cheuk-yi, however, landed on Wednesday to try to adapt to the hot weather. Maximum daily temperatures in the city usually exceed 35 degrees Celsius and often breach the 40 degrees Celsius mark.

We trained at noon for the past month in Hong Kong to get used to the heat, as we knew competing [in Nanjing] would be tough
Triathlete Chelsea Hung

"We trained at noon for the past month in Hong Kong to get used to the heat, as we knew competing here would be tough," said Hung. "It was raining and cool when we arrived, about 22 degrees Celsius. It is much hotter today, but we can still manage."

Nanjing is well known for its hot summers, and is frequently described as one of the "four furnaces" in the country. The high temperatures raise fears about the health of athletes.

When the Asian Youth Games was held last year in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, some Hong Kong footballers, as well as volunteers and spectators, suffered heatstroke.

But Jimmy Wan Shu-wah, Hong Kong triathlon team coach, said he was not worried.

"The high temperature can affect athletes' performance, especially in the running leg. But there are trees along the cycling and running routes to help shield them," said Wan. "Michael and Chelsea have had experience competing in the heat in Singapore and Philippines. We always monitor their body conditions and they will have plenty of water en route."

Lam, who scooped a title in the Zhenjiang leg of the Asian Cup in April, aims to be among the first two Asians home and also finish in the top 10 overall, while Hung, who only joined the national squad in April, hopes to finish in the top 15.

She will compete on Sunday and Lam on Monday.