Road to Rio: I cried many times but I made the Olympics in the end, says Hong Kong marathon star Christy Yiu

Top women’s marathon runner needed to quit her nursing job and put months of hard training to qualify for this Summer Games as she makes up a two-member Hong Kong Olympic track and field team with male long jumper Chan Ming-tai

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 July, 2016, 6:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2016, 9:59am

Hong Kong marathon runner Christy Yiu Kit-ching spoke about the enormous sacrifices she had to make to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, but she said all the hard work paid off in the end.

Yiu spoke to the media at the Hong Kong Sports Institute on Tuesday as she was presented alongside male long jumper Chan Ming-tai as Hong Kong’s two track and field athletes heading for Rio.

The 28-year-old Yiu was the first of the 38-member Hong Kong Olympic squad to book her ticket to the Summer Games having achieved the feat at the Prague Marathon (2:38:24) in May 2015.

Chan was 3cm short of the Olympic qualification mark but was granted a wild card entry to Rio through the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Yiu said it wasn’t easy qualifying for the Olympics, where her Prague time was some four minutes inside the qualifying mark.

“I have cried so many times because it was the toughest training I have ever had to gone through. But I treasure the opportunity because I got there in the end,” said the diminutive Yiu, who like Chan will kick off their final Olympic preparations overseas.

“I am not a natural marathon runner like many of my Asian counterparts from Japan or China and because of that I had to go through a demanding training schedule in order to make the grade.

Watch: Christy Yiu shares how her husband helped achieve the Olympic dream

“In fact, I have spent no more than two days with my family over the last couple of months as I was training overseas. But I can’t complain.

“I know many Hong Kong athletes have to go through the same sacrifices I had to make,” said Yiu, who put her nursing career on hold last year so that she could train full time.

Yiu was predominantly a middle distance runner in the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres but switched to marathon two years ago because she said the marathon was easier to qualify for the Games.

Under new Japanese coach Shinetsu Murao, she competed in her first marathon at last year’s Hong Kong Marathon and after just a few months later, she realised her Olympic dream in Prague.

“My target is to finish in two hours and 34 minutes in Rio,” said Yiu.

Read more: Chan Ming-tai betters his Hong Kong long jump record to boost Olympic hopes

“But even that time wouldn’t be good enough for a medal. I want to set a new personal best at the Games. That would definitely be an achievement,” added Yiu, who will be leaving for Auckland for three weeks of training before travelling to Argentina for a few days and heading to Rio, where she hopes to do Hong Kong proud.

Long jumper Chan, 21, meanwhile, said he would be using Rio as experience for the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

“We hope he can gain as much international exposure as possible in Rio as he is still young,” said Chan’s coach Animo Chan Wai-yin.

“Chan’s target will be setting a personal best of over eight metres in an overseas competition. If he can do that, we will then use the next four years to build up his consistency on that level before contesting the Tokyo Olympics.”

Chan, a second year student at the University of Hong Kong, set a Hong Kong record of 8.12 metres at Wan Chai Sports Ground in May. His best result in an overseas competition was 7.99 metres when he won the Singapore Open last month.