Courageous effort: Sarah Lee returns to the winning rostrum with first gold of Asian Championships
Hong Kong star redeems herself after two previous defeats with victory in the women’s keirin on the final day of the tourney in Izu, Japan
Sarah Lee Wai-sze made it a golden day for herself and for Hong Kong as she saved her best for last with victory in the women’s keirin on the final day of the Asian Championships on Saturday.
Lee had been beaten in both the sprint and the time trial at the tournament in Izu, Japan, but she was in no mood to settle for second or third best as she won the same discipline that made her a major star with bronze at the London Olympic Games.
Lee beat three strong rivals from China to finish first in the eight-lap race, with Fatehah Mustapa of Malaysia finishing second and Lee Hye-jin of South Korea taking bronze.
Hong Kong Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak praised Lee’s display, which was made more courageous by the fact that she needed to prove herself after failing to scoop gold in her first two events.
“She is always strong in the keirin,” asaid the chief. “But after failing to defend her time trial, where she was a five-time champion, followed by defeat in the sprint, Lee must have been under pressure to perform as the keirin was her last chance for glory.
“It’s not easy to deliver when you are under pressure. But she did it. Keirin requires a lot of courage as you have to race at full speed against six other riders as they dash to the finish.”
Leung also paid tribute to Cheung King-lok, who just missed out on a fourth gold medal when finishing second in the men’s madison race.
“His victory in the road time trial is a major breakthrough as we have never won this event before at Asian level,” said Leung, himself a former Hong Kong road race champion in the 1980s. “Time trial is also on the Olympic programme and we hope Cheung can make further improvement to reach the highest level.”
Cheung, who turns 25 next month, clinched a double on the road with victory also in the mass start. He then notched his third gold in the individual pursuit on the track before finishing with a silver in the points race.
He and partner Leung Chun-wing won the last two madison races at the regional championships but lost by just one point on their third attempt against a Korean pair.
Park Keon-woo and Shin Dong-in collected a total 20 points after 80 laps, beating the Hong Kong pair who had 19.
In the women’s omnium, Hong Kong’s Diao Xiaojuan came fourth, but the result should not affect her Olympic berth as she has qualified for the World Championships in London, where she should collect sufficient points in the final round of Olympic qualification.