Lee sisters handed stunning reprieve after near-miss and will represent Hong Kong at Rio Games

A total of thirty Hong Kong athletes from eight sports have now qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio this summer after the two rowers were handed an unexpected opportunity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 May, 2016, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 May, 2016, 4:41pm

A total of thirty Hong Kong athletes from eight sports have now qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio this summer after two rowers were handed an unexpected opportunity.

We have been feeling so sad and down since the competition in Korea. Missing out by such a narrow margin in such an important race is really hard to accept
Lee Ka-man

The women’s lightweight double sculls of Lee Ka-man and her younger sister, Lee Yuen-yin became the latest pair to book their tickets to Rio despite losing at the Asia and Oceania qualifying regatta in South Korea last week.

They were devastated after missing out in a photo-finish with the hosts Korea and Vietnam in the race, but with the introduction of a new rule limiting each country to entering just one men’s and one women’s boat at the continental event, South Korea, who have already qualified two women’s boats in the lightweight doubles and single skulls events, opted to give up their double sculls slot, allowing the Hong Kong pairing an unexpected route to Rio.

This will be the second appearance for Lee Ka-man in the Olympic Games, having competed in the open singles in Beijing in 2008, but the debut for her sister.

The men’s lightweight doubles, Tang Chiu-mang and Chiu Hin-chun qualified via the continental regatta.

The older Lee, a double silver medalist at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, was delighted with the news.

“We have been feeling so sad and down since the competition in Korea,” she said. “Missing out by such a narrow margin in such an important race is really hard to accept – even though we both rowed the best race of our lives. Now we have been given a new chance, we will definitely make the most of it and move up to an even higher level for the Games.”

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The crew will now join their male counterparts – Tang and Chiu on an intensive phase of pre-Olympic preparation, with races in Japan and Poland, and training camps in Germany and Belgium before flying to Rio at the beginning of August.

Head coach Chris Perry was satisfied with the progress of the team so far.

“We have qualified the maximum number of boats possible under the continental qualification process and the focus now is to rebuild our power and technique before peaking again for Rio,” he said. “There is still a long road ahead in terms of training. The lightweight doubles events are amongst the most competitive in the entire Olympic programme and, with all crews averaging the same body weight, technical ability and power are always the key.”

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Other sports in which Hong Kong has already qualified for the Rio Olympics include athletics, badminton, cycling, fencing, swimming, table tennis and windsurfing while judo and shooting also have chances to join the list.

Hong Kong will take its biggest badminton squad of seven players in four disciplines to Rio while there are six from table tennis, three men and three women.

However, Hong Kong is unlikely to reach the same number of athletes it sent to the London Olympics four years ago when it sent a party of 42.