Tiffany Chan living the dream as she prepares to fly the flag for Hong Kong at Olympics golf tournament

Male stars’ fears over Zika barely crossed her mind as amateur star looks forward to making history in Rio

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 3:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 11:14pm

A week after making history by qualifying for the Olympics, Hong Kong golf starlet Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching is still pinching herself.

She’s living the dream as one of only three amateurs among the 120 men and women who qualified as the sport returns to the Games for the first time since 1904.

And while the world’s top four male players – and many others – can’t be bothered turning up, Chan can’t wait to fly the flag for Hong Kong.

WATCH: Tiffany Chan shares her Olympic excitement

“I can’t comment on others’ opinions, but I do respect their choices because Zika is dangerous,” said Chan at Hong Kong Golf Club in Deep Water Bay before jetting back to the States to prepare for the US Women’s Amateur Championship which starts on August 1.

“It’s your own choice and risk to participate but all the LPGA players are still in it, because for women it’s different,” she added, saying the women don’t enjoy the same longevity in their careers as the men – and certainly not the same limelight. “For the girls it’s more exciting because it only happens once every four years.”

Pulling out never crossed Chan’s mind, of course. She can’t wait to savour the experience. “I’m so excited,” she said. “It’s like a dream come true for all of us.

“The first Asian Games I went to I couldn’t stay in the athlete’s village because the golf course was too far away. Two years ago I got the chance and I really like the involvement, everyone having meals together, meeting all the different sports, seeing all the Hong Kong athletes very united.

“Golf is kind of different to other sports, more individual, but in the Olympics you don’t play for yourself and your own name, you play for your country.”

Chan’s parents, who introduced her to the game at the public driving range in Tuen Mun, were in attendance with her older sister, as well as best friend Stephanie Ho, a TVB starlet and former top young golfer. Mr Chan admitted he was a bit frightened about crime and Zika, but all of them will be supporting her in Rio.

“I think they are still like me, don’t really know how to react to this great opportunity,” added Chan. “I think the happiest is my family, my sister, my parents as well as my good friend Stephanie’s parents, they’ve all been supporting me throughout the journey.

“It’s still like a dream for me. Everyone’s been checking the rankings every week, texting me saying you improved or dropped a few places back, everyone’s been really excited for the whole journey.

“It’s been a long, long journey because it started last August when I won the TLPGA event. I still can’t tell you how excited I am and I’ll practise harder than ever and try to prove that I will treasure this chance.

“I treat every tournament trying to play the best I can ... it’s only once every four years and I’ll try my best not to let anyone down or let myself down.”