Will I get married? Maybe, but it won’t stop me from competing at the next Olympics in Tokyo, says Sarah Lee
Hong Kong cycling star returns home after a disappointing campaign at the Rio Games and announces her life might change in the future ‘if I come across it’ but she will try to win glory again for the city
Hong Kong cycling star Sarah Lee Wai-sze says she might one day settle down and get married but that won’t stop her from taking part at the next Olympics in Tokyo in four years’ time.
Returning home after a disappointing campaign on the track, where she was expected to win a medal in the keirin, the same event that saw her take home bronze at the London Games in 2012, the 29-year-old Hong Kong hero said there was life outside of cycling, but the sport she dearly loves remains top of her priority list.
“Many riders from overseas countries get married and have kids but they still manage to get involved in sport,” said Lee. “I won’t rule these things out [marriage] in my life just because I want to compete in the next Olympic Games. But of course this is a question of opportunity. If I come across it, I would not turn it down.”
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Lee received a warm reception at Hung Hom Station, where she was greeted by about 20 fans despite coming home empty handed from Rio. She took a flight back to Guangzhou, where her training was based, before taking the short train journey home.
“It’s a bit disappointing that I failed to win a medal in Rio but it’s very encouraging to have the huge support of the Hong Kong people. Hopefully it’s not short lived and they will continue to support me and other Hong Kong athletes,” she said.
The rider also urged head cycling coach Shen Jinkang to stay on in his position to “help her scale to new heights”. The mainland coach, who came to Hong Kong in 1994 and has played a pivotal role in helping lift the sport to its highest level in the Asian region, will finish his contract with the Sports Institute in March next year.
“I know this is a matter between the coach and the Sports Institute, but we have developed a very good coaching supporting system through Shen and hopefully we can keep the same coaching team for the next Olympics,” said Lee.
Shen, 63, has passed the retirement age of the Sports Institute set at 60 but the Hong Kong Cycling Association has already thrown its backing to the head coach, requesting a special dispensation to allow Shen to stay with the team.
Hong Kong will host the track World Championships at the Tseung Kwan O Velodrome in April next year, which will be an opportunity for Hong Kong’s top riders to gauge themselves against the world’s best.
“My next target will be the World Championships as this is going to be the first time Hong Kong will stage this world event,” said Lee. “We need to show that our hard work has paid off so we can show this in front of our home crowd.”
“After the World Championships we will have the National Games at the end of the year and then the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia [Jakarta]. I will have to see my progress by that time to decide if I can go ahead and compete at the next Olympics. If I can’t keep up with the world’s best, I may have to quit cycling.”
Lee will resume competition later this year when she takes part in a professional keirin race in Japan in November. She will then compete in three legs of the track World Cup series, which will help her qualify for the World Championships in Hong Kong.
Lee also said she’s delighted to have returned from Rio and can’t wait to see her family again.
“I haven’t seen them for five months as I was busy preparing for the Rio Olympics. Hopefully I can do more of my training in Hong Kong in future,” said Lee, who was also based in Kunming for the Rio Olympics.