Will we see Sarah Lee at the Olympics again? Keeping coach Shen Jinkang could be the key
The Hong Kong Cycling Association is confident the current mentor is still the best person for the job and hopes he can convince the 29-year-old superstar to aim for Tokyo in 2020
Hong Kong cycling chiefs are determined to persuade disillusioned star Sarah Lee Wai-sze to commit to another Olympic campaign – and they believe securing the continued services of coach Shen Jinkang is crucial.
Shen’s top priority would be to help persuade a battered and bemused Lee, 29, to train for the 2020 Tokyo Games after she admitted she wanted some time out from the sport to consider her options.
A crash caused by Australian rider Anna Meares in the keirin semi-finals in Rio put paid to her medal chances in that event and a below-par performance against gold medal winner Kristina Vogel of Germany in the sprint on Tuesday saw her challenge end in the quarter-finals.
WATCH: relive the action involving Hong Kong athletes on Day 11 at the Rio Olympics
Shen’s two-year contract with the Sports Institute ends in March and the mainlander has already passed the usual retirement age of 60.
“We all know Shen’s ability as a top coach as he has transformed cycling over the last two decades in Hong Kong,” said Hong Kong Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak.
“He is still the best person for the job. In the long run we will need to find an ideal candidate to replace him but not at this stage, even if we have just failed to win a medal at the Rio Olympic Games.
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“We hope the institute will consider another special dispensation for coach Shen and the association will have no hesitation in putting forward the request.”
The former head coach of China, Shen arrived in Hong Kong in 1994 and has since brought Hong Kong riders to the highest level in the region. His finest achievement is guiding Lee to a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
“The 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia is our next target and then we’ll see how it goes before we set sights on the 2020 Tokyo Games.”
Two of Shen’s proteges are currently working under him as his assistants. Wong Kam-po, the three-times Asian Games road race champion, and Cheung King-wai, the points race gold medallist at the 2006 Asian Games, are being groomed to eventually take over the head coaching job but not in the near future, said Leung.
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Leung said the association had yet to speak to Shen and Lee about their futures.
“We will talk to the coach once he arrives home as we need to sort all these out as soon as possible,” said the chief.
WATCH: golden moments on Day 11 at the Rio Olympics
“We also want Lee to stay on as she is still competitive at the highest level. In fact, we will run the track world championships in Hong Kong in April next year and Lee would definitely still be the star attraction for that.”
Shen, meanwhile, is still in Rio to take care of mountain biker Chan Chun-hing, who will start in the men’s cross-country on Sunday.