Hong Kong cycling star Sarah Lee commits to 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after months of uncertainty
The 30-year-old says age is not a concern and she is confident she can challenge for a medal in Japan
Sarah Lee Wai-sze has performed a U-turn on her career, saying she will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after all, much to the relief of the Hong Kong camp.
Breaking months of silence after there were suggestions she might not commit herself to another gruelling build-up, Hong Kong’s most successful cyclist has decided to go for her third Olympics.
The 30-year-old has kept the media guessing as to her long-term future, with the Hong Kong camp fearing she was ready to pack it in after clinching a bronze medal at last year’s World Championships in Hong Kong.
“My next event will be the World Cup series in Minsk [Belarus] this month which means I will also continue for the next three years,” said Lee, who easily won the women’s sprint at the Hong Kong Championships at the Tseung Kwan O velodrome on Saturday.
It was her first event since she took part in the Asian Indoor Games in September in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
“You can say I am targeting the 2020 Olympic Games in that sense. I think we can still challenge for a medal in Tokyo if we put in a real concerted effort. Age is not a concern for me. Physically and mentally, I am always ready and able to compete,” Lee said.
Lee said she had pondered her future over the past months and made premature comments to the media without discussion with her coach, Shen Jinkang.
“As a mature athlete, it is important to trust my coach and I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Shen,” she said. She said studying for her second degree at the Baptist University will now become a lower priority.
Meanwhile, up-and-coming rider Vivian Ma Wing-yu, another sprinter with the Hong Kong team, was delighted with Lee’s decision, saying she would continue to learn from the experienced rider in the next three years to help her book a place for the Tokyo Games.
“She is a role model for the team and she always gives me a lot of advice when we work together. I have more confidence in qualifying for the 2020 Olympics now,” Ma said.
“She is the most senior member of the team and there’s also the team sprint in the Olympic programme that we can work together.”
Hong Kong will send three riders to the World Cup in Minsk next week, the last series of the season, with male riders Leung Chun-wing and Cheung King-lok also joining the contingent. Lee missed all four previous legs of the World Cup series.
Hong Kong’s biggest challenge will be the Asian Championships in Ipoh, Malaysia next month, to be followed by the track World Championships in the Netherlands and the Asian Games in Indonesia in August. Lee says she will target medals in all.
Lee and Ma won the women’s team sprint at last year’s Asian Championships in India while Lee also clinched the sprint and keirin gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. “The two individual events will still be my target in Indonesia,” Lee said.