Hong Kong to host cycling's world track championships in to mark 20th anniversary of handover in 2017

Bauhinia’s golden girl secures place in today’s last eight round of races, but faces nemesis Lin Junhong of China

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 March, 2016, 11:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 March, 2016, 11:10am

Good news comes in twos for Hong Kong. Golden girl Sarah Lee Wai-sze reached Sunday’s quarter-finals of the women’s sprint in London moments before Hong Kong was declared as hosts of the 2017 World Track Cycling Championships.

It will be only the second time the showpiece event has been hosted in Asia, following Maebashi in Japan in 1990.

“I am delighted that the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships will be held in Hong Kong,” UCI president Brian Cookson said at a news conference at the London velodrome, the venue of this year’s championships.

This is a great news for cycling not only for Hong Kong, but also our Asia counterparts
Leung Hung-tak

“The fact that the event is going to Asia for the second time marks an important milestone in the further globalisation of track cycling,” Cookson said.

Hong Kong Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak was elated at the news.

“This is a great news for cycling not only for Hong Kong, but also our Asia counterparts,” said Leung.

READ MORE: Mission accomplished: Track Cycling World Championships next for ambitious Hong Kong?

“It will be the second time the world event to be staged in the region after Japan made it in the early ’90s and we understand the world body is also eager to promote track cycling in Asia.

“We are confident of putting up a great show after a successful World Cup series in January. This is one of the reasons that the world body decided to award the championships to us.”

The association has set aside a budget of HK$15 million for the event and Leung said it was also under pressure to secure sufficient financial support.

“There is still a year to go, but we have to work out financial plans as commercial sponsorship will contribute a key role to the income of the event even if we have already had the support of the official bearers of our association.”

Lee, meanwhile, will be out to set the record straight when she meets rival Lin Junhong of China in the women’s sprint at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Lee Valley VeloPark.

The Hong Kong rider continued her winning form as she marched into the quarter-finals of the event, one of her two targets at the Rio Games this summer.

The other is the keirin, an event in which Lee won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games.

Following her silver medal finish in the 500-metre time trial on Friday, the 28 year-old Lee apparently regained her confidence of putting up a strong show.

Indeed, from the qualifying round to the last-eight stage on Saturday, Lee was in dominant form. She came fifth in the qualifiers (a 200-metre sprint) with a time of 10.888 seconds, one of the her best results in recent years, while Lin was ninth (10.963).

Only the top 24 riders out of 33 in the qualifiers make it to the first round where Lee had no difficulty of beating Tania Calvo of Spain. She went on to defeat home favourite Jessica Vanish of Great Britain before moving into the quarter-finals.

Lee will now be eager to make amends for losing twice before to Lin in the past two months.

The pair met in the final at the track world cup series in Hong Kong in mid-January and despite the support of more than 2,000 fans, Lee lost both races in the best-of-three tie and the gold medal.

Two weeks later, they clashed again at the Asian Championships in Japan where Lee managed one win this time in the semi-final, but still lost 2-1 overall to Lin who went on to be crowned the Asian champion.

Both riders had entered the keirin in London, but both failed to reach the final after finishing out of the top three in the same heat of the second round.

Lee, who suffered a crashed in the previous round, came fourth, just ahead of Lin’s fifth place at that event four years ago.

Additional reporting by Reuters