Sarah Lee hit by first defeat in time trial in six years at Asian Championships
Hong Kong’s golden girl loses to mainland opponent Zhong Tianshi at Izu velodrome near Tokyo, settling for second
Sarah Lee Wai-sze’s Asian Championship campaign hit the skids after she suffered her first defeat in six years in the women’s time trial on Wednesday.
At the Izu velodrome, 120km west of Tokyo and the designated venue for the 2020 Olympic Games, Lee finished second in the 500-metre sprint event, a discipline she has dominated in the past, after easily losing to rival Zhong Tianshi of China.
A major hope for China’s first Olympic cycling gold in Rio this summer, Zhong finished the two-lap event in 33. 498 seconds.
Lee, who was the regional champion of the non-Olympic programme since 2011, clocked 33.903 seconds to settle for silver. Hsiao Mei-Yu of Taiwan, the 2007 champion, was well behind the duo when clocking 35.09 seconds for the bronze.
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Zhong was absent from the Hong Kong leg of the UCI Track World Cup series two weeks ago, apparently saving her best for the regional championships.
But Lee was also far from her best as the Hong Kong rider holds the Asian record of 33.296 seconds set at the World Cup series in Aguscalientes, Mexico, two years ago.
Lee will now turn her attention to the sprint at the Asian championships.
“It’s always difficult to predict the result in women’s sprint as it is sometimes decided by a fraction of a second,” said Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak.
“We have always had confidence in Lee as a top sprinter, but the mainlanders are very strong in this event as they have many powerful riders other than Zhong.”
Lin Junhong won the Hong Kong leg in the sprint when she beat Lee in the final while compatriot Guo Shuang was the overall sprint champion of the World Cup series.
Lee will be up against Lin and Guo in the sprint on Thursday.
In the girl’s junior team pursuit, Hong Kong beat Taiwan for the bronze medal while Philip Leung Pak-ho was second in the junior boy’s scratch 10km race.