THE flag came down for the last time at the Commonwealth Games, but the banner flew bravely at the Asian Games as Hong Kong sport ushered out the old and heralded in the new in 1994. It was the end of an era as the territory participated for the last time at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada. Four years hence, Hong Kong will be part of China. All that will be left will be memories of Empire, and later the Commonwealth. It would have been an emotional moment for traditionalists, watching the Hong Kong flag - which had flown since the Vancouver Games in 1954 - being lowered for the last time at the Centennial Stadium in Victoria on August 28. For Hong Kong's athletes too, there was hardly any cheer as they finished the Games with a haul of only four bronze medals: two coming from visually impaired lawn bowlers Carlos Antunes and Sunny Tang; Ken Wallis winning a lawn bowl medal in the men's singles and the mixed doubles team winning a medal in badminton. While it was an uphill struggle at the Commonwealth Games, the territory's sportsmen and sportswomen celebrated their best ever performance at October's Asian Games in Hiroshima, hauling in five silvers and seven bronze medals. Windsurfing queen Lee Lai-shan and her fiance Sam Wong Tak-sum won silvers in their respective categories while the other silver medals went to rower Ho Kim-fai in the women's single sculls, Leung Yat-ho in the men's nanquan event in wushu, and Chai Po-wa and Chan Tan-lui who earned Hong Kong a medal in the women's table tennis team event. The bronze medals were gathered in rowing, swimming, table tennis, wushu and yachting. The news that Chinese athletes who tested positive for drugs at the Asian Games will be stripped off their medals will see the final medal tally for the territory creeping up to six silvers and seven bronzes. Benefitting are the women's 4 ? 100 freestyle relay team of Robyn Lamsam, Fenella Ng, Katie Lau and Vivien Lee, who will be elevated from bronze to silver, and Lamsam taking bronze after finishing fourth in the 50-metre freestyle. The success of the Asian Games could be the dawn of a new age in Hong Kong sport. Certainly more emphasis is being placed on sport by administrators and athletes. And the rewards are instant. An incentive scheme saw $500,000 being handed out to medal winners at the Asian Games. This more than anything else could be the spark that will revitalise Hong Kong sport in the years to come. Money, however, also proved to be a bugbear in 1994, as all boxing fans found out to their annoyance. The territory's first tilt at staging a professional title fight, billed as 'High Noon in Hong Kong', turned into an amateurish fiasco of the top order. Unable to put up the guarantee money, the promoters cancelled a four-bout card which included the WBO heavyweight title fight between Herbie Hide and Tommy Morrison, on the eve of the big day - October 23. There were plenty of people, from irate ticket holders to surprised PR people, gunning around on High Noon day. There was no boxing, but it certainly was a knockout in terms of epitomising the 'will-they, won't-they' nature of Hong Kong sport. The venue for High Noon was no corral, but rather the Hong Kong Stadium. The stadium, however, did resemble a corral when the annual Hong Kong Sevens was held on March 25-26. New Zealand slipped and slid their way to victory over arch-rivals Australia in the Cup final. The shifting layers of grass never really settled as everyone concerned from the Urban Council to Wembley held meeting after meeting to decide what course of action to take. Their ruminations were as boring as watching grass grow. In the end they decided not to re-lay the pitch at the stadium, but hope that time would allow roots to take hold. But the stadium was a joy to behold when 40,000 spectators jammed in to watch Sampdoria defeat Eastern 4-1. The match showed what an asset Hong Kong sport has in the stadium. While the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes (won again by England) wisely decided to opt out of their planned move to the stadium this year, tennis made a move in, with Hong Kong's favourite son Michael Chang meeting John McEnroe in an exhibition game earlier this month. Chang, who in April, defeated Australian Patrick Rafter to win his first professional title in Hong Kong, winning the Salem Open, was once again in a winning mood, defeating the now-retired McEnroe in straight sets much to the delight of his legion of fans. There was heartache, however, for South China fans when the territory's famous club lost 4-2 to Al Qadisiah of Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup Winners' Cup final at home. The Caroliners went to Saudi and were beaten 2-0 in the second leg. It would have also been a wrench for a host of administrators and coaches who left the territory this year. Among them were Hong Kong Sports Institute director Paul Brettell, Hong Kong swimming coach Bill Sweetenham, Hong Kong badminton coach Diano Lo and Hong Kong Tennis Association coach Michael Walker. While the old were ushered out, the new was unveiled in the form of Sports House which opened on May 23. Thirty-four national sports associations have made Sports House their new home. Hopefully, it will the foundation for a new beginning in Hong Kong sport.