Chan will take flight in medal chase

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:07pm


Tenacious windsurfer Hayley Chan Hei-man is preparing to make a giant aquatic leap for Hong Kong and take up kitesurfing so she can compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

With her RS-X discipline facing the Olympic axe, the medal-hungry Hong Kong University student declared her contingency plan within hours of narrowly missing a medal-race place at the sailing regatta.

'I will look at kitesurfing because the racing formula is quite similar to the windsurfing format. I don't think it will be too hard to change over. Many competing windsurfing girls my age are also taking up kitesurfing,' said the 21-year old, who overcame serious injuries to compete in her first Olympics.

The International Sailing Federation dropped a bombshell when it stated the sport - which brought Hong Kong its historic 1996 Atlanta gold medal thanks to Lee Lai-shan - would make way for kitesurf ing.

The decision sparked anger around the world and a legal appeal has been lodged by the RS-X Class with the High Court in London. 'The opinion of our legal team is that the decision was perverse and unfair and so we issued a claim in the High Court in London for the decision to be judicially reviewed,' said a RS-X class spokesman.

Sailing officials are to meet again in November when another vote could take place - but the future of the discipline remains in doubt and competitive windsurfers are hedging their bets.

'I need to talk to [coach] Rene Appel about what to do,' Chan said. 'We have to wait to see what happens in November. But I really want to win an Olympic medal. I want to do my best for Hong Kong.

'Watching Sarah Lee Wai-sze make Olympic history and win bronze in the cycling has inspired me even more to win. Seeing her on the podium has made me really want to win an Olympic medal for Hong Kong,' said Chan, whose Olympic odyssey ended in disappointment on Sunday.

She ended the competition 12th in her class - narrowly missing out on one of the 10 medal-race berths.

But she is being hailed as a hero by many after she was in a collision with a high-speed racing dinghy on June 2 and broke five ribs and needed surgery to remove her spleen.

'Seeing Hayley compete in these Olympics after what happened nine weeks ago has been a victory in itself. She has the hallmarks of a great athlete,' said her Appel. 'We will have to see what happens in November but we hope, after the success of these Games, windsurfing will stay.'

Male RS-X windsurfing hopeful Andy Leung Ho-tsun also failed to advance to the medal race, finishing in13th place.