Golden girl Siobhan Haughey nominated for best Hong Kong athlete award despite no guarantees she is eligible
The swimming star is not able to meet the expectation of attending March’s ceremony but it is the first time officials are faced with university studies as an excuse
World-class swimmer Siobhan Haughey’s name has been put forward for Hong Kong’s best athlete award even though she is officially ineligible – with swimming officials hoping organisers can give the student athlete a special exemption.
Haughey’s coach Michael Fasching on Monday confirmed that the University of Michigan student would not be able to attend the March ceremony at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.
According to award rules, an athlete must be in Hong Kong to receive the trophy unless he or she is taking part in a world or Asian championship or equivalent.
However, this is the first time Hong Kong’s Sports Federation and Olympic Committee, which organises the event, is faced with university studies as an excuse and the body has promised to look into the matter.
“We have received two nominations from our member associations for the award and Haughey was chosen by our selection committee,” said David Chiu Chin-hung, honorary secretary of the HKASA.
“She has had an outstanding year, no doubt about this as we all know how difficult it is to reach the world championships final. Her two gold medals at the World University Games is another proof of her quality at the top level.”
Although Fasching is adamant Haughey will not be in Hong Kong, Chiu said they had yet to hear from Haughey about whether she would be at the ceremony.
“Until we hear from her it’s too early to discuss the matter,” said Chiu.
Efforts to reach Haughey on Monday proved unsuccessful.
Before winning the women’s 100m and 200m freestyle gold medals at the University Games in Taipei this summer, Haughey came fifth in the 200m freestyle at the world championships.
Her time in the 200m final is among the top 10 performances worldwide in 2017 and No 1 in Asia against leading female swimmers from China and Japan.
Golden girl Siobhan Haughey wins again in record time to match Hong Kong’s best World University Games return
Each sport is allowed to nominate one candidate for one of the eight best athlete of the year awards, with entries closing this week. Out of the eight, the one with the highest number of votes will take the best of the best prize for 2017.
Haughey, however, is not without competition. Snooker and billiard queen Ng On-yee is the world champion and won a number of major titles this year, including a revenge victory over England’s Reanne Evans on her way to winning the women’s world championship in Singapore in March.
Cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze also snatched a bronze medal at the track world championships held in front of the home crowds at the Tseung Kwan O velodrome in April.
Her third place in the women’s individual sprint, which is one of the Olympic programmes, means she is still a force to be reckoned with in the sport.
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But the Hong Kong Cycling Association has yet to decide which athlete to nominate as they weigh up the 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist’s performance with that of up-and-coming Leung Chun-wing, who made a strong comeback in the final event to clinch the men’s omnium gold medal at the China National Games in Tianjin.
“The world championships is the biggest event in the absence of the Olympic Games but Leung’s performance in China is extremely impressive. Our council will have to make a decision soon before submitting the nomination,” said association chairman Leung Hung-tak.