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Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2017

Hong Kong star runner Christy Yiu gives marathon a miss to have first child between Olympic Games

The Olympian hopes to come back even stronger after pregnancy as she targets second Games in Tokyo 2020

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2017, 2:24pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 February, 2017, 11:29pm

Hong Kong’s top female marathon runner Christy Yiu Kit-ching will miss Sunday’s race for the first time in several years, but the Olympian had a pretty good excuse.

“I decided not to participate as I want to have a baby,” revealed Yiu, the fastest local woman last year. “Right now I’ve had a few early signs [of pregnancy] so I’ve stopped training, though there’s not enough weeks for the ultrasound.”

With the 28-year-old targeting the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, she and her husband, fellow elite runner Chan Ka-ho, knew they had a narrow window to try for their first child.

And Yiu hopes to emulate Maggie Chan Man-yee, who set the long-standing women’s Hong Kong marathon record (2:35:49) just a few months after giving birth. Yiu was 22 seconds off Chan’s record in blistering heat at the Rio Olympics.

“I’m very nervous, because to make it to Tokyo, I need to give birth this year so that I can return to training as soon as possible,” added Yiu, a nurse before she took up running full-time.

“I’m still thinking how the other women manage it – you know Paula Radcliffe after she gave birth just a few months later she still ran some of her best times [winning the New York Marathon after having her first child].

“Maybe our bodies, Asian and western, are different ... [but] Maggie Chan got the Hong Kong record just a few months after so maybe I can do the same!”

Yiu will be in the commentary box and no doubt keeping an eye out for her husband in the 10k and leading local male runner Hard Tsui Chi-kin in the marathon.

Reigning Hong Kong Marathon champion Mike Kiprotich Mutai targeting course record

The top local finisher for the last two years admits he’s found it difficult to adapt to the demands of full-time training after a crowdfunding campaign and a grant from the Hong Kong Sports Institute allowed him to quit his job as a surveying assistant at a construction site.

But he still hopes to beat last year’s time of 2:31:32, with conditions set to much more benign than 2016’s monsoon.

“I think it’s possible to beat my PB of 2:29 so I hope to go under 2:30,” he said.

“It might be easier than last year but last year, even though it was heavy rain there was no wind so it was still quite comfortable. But this year should be better for sure.

“After full-time the training volume is larger than before and I’ve been feeling a lot more tired, this year I haven’t adapted and I think I need more time.

Does Hong Kong Marathon’s surge in popularity since 1997 reflect city’s changing attitude to sport?

“Training every day you’re not just physically tired, you’re mentally tired so it’s very tough.”

Meanwhile, after three people were arrested for flying drones over the track at the Formula E race in October last year, Marathon organisers are hoping to avoid similar scenes.

“We can’t really stop it but we ask people not to do it because it’s really dangerous for the runners,” said William Ko Wai-lam, chairman of the organising committee. “Once runners realise there’s a drone there, automatically they want to wave and slow down and then there are people from behind crashing into them.”