Sarah Lee bags silver and then says sorry to fans for not winning gold at UCI Track World Cup
Hong Kong ace plays second fiddle to mainlander Lin Jinhong, who scores a rare win over the home favourite in the women’s sprint final
Sarah Lee Wai-sze returned to form by winning silver in the women’s sprint at the UCI World Cup on Saturday night and then apologised to her fans for not winning gold.
The Hong Kong star proved what a difference a few weeks can make after she struggled to hold her own in the series’ previous leg in Cambridge, New Zealand. This time, the power was back as she almost raised the roof at the Hong Kong Velodrome in Tseung Kwan O in front of 1,700 happy fans.
However, Lee was annoyed that she was beaten by mainlander Lin Jinhong, whom she had beaten many times before.
Lin is widely considered as the national number three in the sprinting event behind Guo Shuang and Zhong Tianshi, but she won both her races in the final to capture her first World Cup title of the season.
“I feel a bit sorry for not winning the gold medal for the fans but overall I am happy with my performance,” said Lee, who also won a bronze medal in the opening leg of the season in Cali two months ago.
“I have not expected to meet Lin in the final and in fact my performance was still slightly affected by the crash in the keirin in the previous leg. Normally I can have a very strong sprint to the finish but apparently not tonight.”
Lin pulled off a surprising win over Stephanie Morton of Australia in the semi-finals. The Australian came first in the qualification of the event in 200 metres while Lin managed only a fourth place.
Lee, who came third in the qualification with a time of 10.94 seconds, also stunned Anastasiia Voinova of Russia in the penultimate stage, the world record holder in 500-metre time trial.
“It was an important win [over Voinova] as Lee has not beaten the Russian before,” said coach Shen Jinkang. “Voinova is coming up very fast on the world stage and the victory will certainly give Lee an important psychological advantage when they meet again in future.”
The coach said his charge was “too passive” in the final and could not employ her usual high speed dash to the finish. “Perhaps because Lee has beaten Lin many times before, she did not use her best tactics,” he said. “But she must get over it tonight as Lee still has the keirin tomorrow. She is always strong in the event but there are a lot of uncertainties in this exciting event.”
Lee will start in heat three of the keirin where she will meet Lee Hye-jin of South Korea again. The Korean was disqualified in the keirin final in the last leg in New Zealand after being found guilty of hitting Lee’s bike in the final sprint.
In the men’s omnium, Leung Chun-wing recovered from a poor start to finish 21st in the first event in the scratch and came 13th and seventh in the individual pursuit and elimination race respectively. Three more events will take place on Sunday before the title is decided.
“He was too excited in the first event for racing in front of the home crowds,” said coach Shen. “He was getting better and we’ll see how he finishes in the last three events.”
Diao Xiaojuan failed to light up the velodrome in the women’s omnium, finishing 8th (scratch), 12th (pursuit) and 13th (elimination) respectively.
“I could have done better in the elimination to improve my overall score and I will look forward to the last three events to get a better result.”
In the women’s team sprint, Voinova and Daria Shemeleva of Russia won the gold medal and after defeating Katy Marchant and Jessie Varnish of Britain in the final. The other gold medals were won by Canada (women’s team pursuit), Britain (men’s team spirit) and Australia (men’s team pursuit).