‘Family reunion’ gives Hong Kong cycling star Sarah Lee more of a buzz than a World Cup bronze medal in the keirin
Hong Kong star was happy to come away with her second medal at the UCI Track World Cup but she was more content to see her folks in the stands
Home rider Sarah Lee Wai-sze wrapped up the Hong Kong leg UCI Track World Cup with a bronze medal in the women’s keirin on Sunday but she said she felt like a winner with her parents in the spectators’ gallery.
Lee added the bronze to her silver medal in the sprint won the previous night and she told reporters that she first spotted her father seated in the spectator stand among the 2,700-strong fans at the Hong Kong Velodrome, before spotting her mother and other family members.
“I have not seen my parents for more than a month as I wanted to focus on my preparations for the event,” said the home favourite, who spent two weeks in winter camp in Kunming before returning to Hong Kong two weeks ago to prepare for her races.
“I have found that sports is more than just competition as it can link up a family and also my relationship with other people of Hong Kong. Thanks to the organisers and those who have been involved in the Hong Kong leg for making the event happen. Thanks to the fans who came here to support us. I definitely miss the Hong Kong event and want to come back again.”
Veteran Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania won the eight-lap race with Stephanie Morton of Australia finishing just ahead of Lee for the silver medal.
“I really wanted the home crowd to have a good memory but there are many uncertainties in keirin,” said Lee. “There is nothing wrong with my performance although I would say there is certainly room for improvement on the tactics side.
“The Asian Championships will start soon in Japan with China sending their best sprinters. I need to study my game hard for an improved performance before the World Championships in March. Then I will think about the Olympics in the summer.”
Although the two next events will serve the final rounds of qualification for the Rio Olympic Games, Lee’s berth in both the sprint and keirin is almost assured.
In the women’s onmium, Hong Kong’s Diao Xiaojuan, meanwhile, finished with her best ever result with a sixth overall position.
She netted 27 points in the points race – the last of the six disciplines - which she finished second among the 24 competitors.
“I feel really excited racing on the track where we have been training,” said Diao. “The support of the fans did play a part in such a great race as we only raced overseas before in the World Cup. It’s such a good feeling with the support of the fans.”
With a top 10 finish in the final World Cup round, Diao should be able to make it to the Rio Olympics, along with her men’s counterparts Leung Chun-wing, despite a mediocre 15th overall after six events in the men’s category.
Leung reached his pre-race target of beating Mark Cavendish of Britain in the one-kilometre time trial of the omnium, but his dismal finish in the last event – the points race - but was left red-faced after suffering cramping half way through the 40-kilometre race.