Hong Kong’s most promising triathlete to surrender British passport in chase of Olympic dream

Prodigious talent Oscar Coggins targets Asian Games and Tokyo 2020 after win at Asian championships

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 July, 2017, 3:48pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2017, 11:55am

Labelled Hong Kong’s best chance of triathlon success at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Oscar Coggins is preparing to surrender his British passport to live out his dream of representing the territory at the highest level.

Fresh off his first place in the junior men’s category at the Asian Triathlon Championships in Indonesia at the weekend, Coggins, who turns 18 in October, hopes to have a Hong Kong passport in time for next year’s Asian Games, also in Indonesia.

“To be able to represent my country at the highest level is what you dream of as a kid,” he said. “It would be amazing to have that opportunity.

“I need to surrender my British passport and I need to be 18 to do that, so we’re starting the process as soon as possible to try to hopefully be in contention for an Asian Games spot and, past that, the 2020 Olympics.”

Andrew Wright, who coaches Coggins, was full of praise for his charge, highlighting his huge potential and saying he is Hong Kong’s “best hope for the 2020 Olympic Games”.

Coggins was the only Hong Kong athlete to earn a place on the podium in any of the junior or senior categories in Palembang, rating his effort as among the best wins in his career.

“I was able to really take control of the race and race how I wanted to,” Coggins said. “Basically, everything went perfectly so I couldn’t really ask for much more.

“I was definitely aiming for the podium, but getting the win was the definitely the best I could have hoped for.”

The Japan team gave Coggins an idea of what to expect from Asian competition in Tokyo in three years, filling the first three placings in the senior and under-23 men, a feat they also achieved in all of the women’s categories.

Hong Kong-born Coggins finished the 750-metre swim, 20km bike and 5km run in 59 minutes and 13 seconds on a day that could otherwise be seen as a step backwards for Hong Kong after they filled the top three junior men’s placings in 2016 in Japan.

“It was a decent time, but it is hard to compare because the conditions were really tough,” he said. “It was so hot, the tarmac during parts of the run was actually getting soft because of the heat.

“My time was still under an hour which was good,but the conditions definitely didn’t help.”

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Coggins grew up around sport thanks largely to his mum Lynda, starting out as a swimmer at a young age before moving on to rugby and tennis, among other things.

“I started running at around 13 and from there I was introduced to aquathons because my mum said ‘You used to swim, so it would be a good opportunity to get some more racing in’,” Coggins said.

“I essentially ended up with [my coach] Andrew Wright from there and I took it from there.”

Next in line for Coggins, who is entering his final year of high school at Millfield School in England, is the Junior World Championships in Rotterdam in September and, past that, the transition to more senior racing ahead of the Asian Games.

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“Because I turn 18 before the end of the year, I can race as a senior,” he said. “I have already done a senior race this year, in the World Triathlon Series in Leeds this year.

“Essentially I could be considered a senior athlete now, but I am still eligible to race junior.”