The dream is over: Sarah Lee fails to progress to semi-finals of women’s sprint as German champion asserts authority
Hong Kong ace comprehensively beaten by world champion Kristina Vogel as city’s main medal hopes are dashed at the Rio Olympics – she finishes sixth overall
Sarah Lee Wai-sze’s Rio Olympics medal hopes evaporated in a single flash manoeuvre by Germany’s Kristina Vogel, who scored a 2-0 victory in the quarter-finals of the women’s track cycling sprint event on Tuesday.
Lee needed to win the second clash between the two in their best-of-three quarter-final after Vogel defended furiously against the Hong Kong rider’s onslaught to win the first race.
Midway through second lap, after Lee had led off, Vogel made a slick move from the top of the bank to Lee’s inside and took a sizeable lead that the Hong Kong cyclist was unable to overcome.
Even as the riders turned the corner for the final stretch, Lee knew she had been beaten and crossed the finish line at half pace as Vogel celebrated reaching the semi-finals.
Vogel hugged and consoled Lee as the riders made their way off the track, with the Hong Kong rider reflecting on what could have been after a meticulous Olympic build up that had raised hopes of another medal to match the keirin bronze she won in London four years ago.
Lee failed to win a podium place in the 2016 keirin event after falling during the semi-finals on Saturday while leading the pack.
"I haven't been sleeping very well after falling in the keirin," said Lee. "I took some medicine but it didn't help, so I wasn't in the best shape mentally going into the sprint.
"I'm very disappointed. My dream is over. It was four years of hard work to get here."
Lee was leading in the keirin semi-final when she tumbled after being nudged by eventualy bronze medallist Anna Meares, of Australia.
The 29-year-old Lee will be 33 when the Tokyo Olympics come around, still young enough to mount a medal challenge. But until then, she goes home empty-handed.
Lee’s coach Shen Jinkang had imposed a blanket media ban on the cycling squad as soon as they arrived in Rio, with not even non-technical personnel such as the team manager allowed to talk to the media.
The idea was to give Lee zero distractions in her quest for a medal. And indeed, she look impressive in the first two rounds, but couldn’t find the extra gear necessary to overcome Vogel.
Even though she fell in the keirin, Lee was able to show superior speed.
The Hong Kong camp appeared to have an issue with Vogel’s riding style in the first race and Shen was seen talking to officials after the race. However, it looked as if his appeals were rejected.
Vogel, being tracked by Lee in the first race, refused to allow the Hong Kong rider a way through, ducking and diving to ensure there was no break in sight.
Also failing to advance to the semi-finals was China’s world sprint champion Zhong, who was beaten 2-0 by Great Britain’s Rebecca James.
British teammate Katy Marchant defeated Lithuanian rider Simona Krupeckaite and Netherlands’ Elis Ligtlee beat Russian rider Anastasiia Voinova.
Lee eventually finished sixth overall behind fifth-place Zhong after races to determine final classifications among the losing quarter-finalists.