Strong medal chances for Hong Kong at World University Games, says sports supremo Timothy Fok
Swimming star Siobhan Haughey, high jumper Cecilia Yeung, long jumper Chan Ming-tai and gymnast Shek Wai-hung could finish on the podium in Taipei for 110-strong Hong Kong squad
Hong Kong sports supremo Timothy Fok Tsun-ting believes the city will punch above their weight with potentially the strongest-ever squad that will compete at the World University Games in a fortnight’s time.
Hong Kong will send their biggest-ever squad of 110 athletes, who will compete in 14 sports, at the Games in Taipei with a strong line-up of athletes who could bring home medals.
Fok is upbeat that local swimmer Siobhan Haughey, high jumper Cecilia Yeung Man-wai, long jumper Chan Ming-tai, gymnast Shek Wai-hung will stand on the podium and do Hong Kong proud.
“The delegation has some of our best athletes and we are of course looking forward to some good results from them,” said Fok, president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee at Friday’s flag presentation. “Haughey was extremely outstanding at the World Championships and we expect her to keep her good form in Taiwan.”
“She is definitely one of our star athletes and there is already talk about winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 but we should not put too much pressure on her. However, it would be another strong boost to her career if she can do well in Taiwan.”
Hong Kong swimmer Hannah Wilson achieved the best result for the city at the World University Games with two gold medals – in the women’s 100-metre freestyle and 100-metre butterfly – at the 2009 Games in Belgrade.
Michigan University student, Haughey, 19, will compete in the women’s 100 metre and 200 metre freestyle in Taipei. She will also take part in the relays.
She returned to the United States in preparation for the Games after a ground-breaking and historic World Championships in Budapest where she reached the final in the 200 metres freestyle, finishing fifth. She also reached the semi-finals in the 100 metres freestyle.
Haughey said the World University Games was not part of her original target as her coach at Michigan University wanted her to take a break so that she could come back fresh for the new college season. But she had other ideas.
“I would like to compete in Taiwan because it’s not every day that I can represent Hong Kong and Michigan in the same competition,” she said recently. “But I am not thinking about medals or records. I just want to have fun and enjoy the meet.”
Another medal hopeful, Cecilia Yeung, will be returning to familiar surroundings and her favourite hunting ground in Taipei, where she set the Hong Kong record at 1.88 metres that won her the Asia Grand Prix series in late April.
“It will give me more confidence jumping at the same venue again,” said the 22-year-old University of Hong Kong student. “In fact, it is one of the best venues I have ever competed in with its soft surface. But more importantly, this is going to be my first multi-sports games and I can live in the athletes’ village. It is going to be a brand new experience for me and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Yeung, however, has not set any target in Taipei, although her best form could be good enough to bring home a medal.
“If there is a target, the pressure will come,” she said. “Taiwan is a very familiar place for me as I have competed there a number of times. The weather, the food, the people are all familiar and I just want to enjoy the Games and hopeful the result will come.”
Another Hong Kong jumper will be out for medals as well.
Chan Ming-tai came fourth in the men’s long jump at the last Games in Gwangju, South Korea in 2015 with a jump of 7.89 metres. The University of Hong Kong student has since improved that mark, setting a Hong Kong record of 8.12 metres last year. He also won silver at the Asian Championships last month in India with a leap of 8.03 metres.
“I twice jumped over eight metres in India and that’s a strong morale booster ahead of the Games,” he said. “I have recently changed my running pace which really helps and I am still trying to accommodate the new technique but my target will be another eight-metre jump in Taiwan.”
Gymnast Shek won gold in men’s vault at the 2014 Asian Games, but the Education University student is nursing a slight shoulder injury after returning to his studies after competing at the 2012 London Olympics.