Two of Hong Kong's leading hopes for an Olympic medal, table tennis players Chai Po-wa and Chan Tan-lui, have had only an hour's practice together over the past 14 months. The lack of practice could prove crucial for the gifted pair - seeded third in the women's doubles event in Atlanta. The seeding should offer them a realistic chance of winning the bronze, which would make them the territory's first athletes to bring home an Olympic medal. Chan and Chai trained together on Saturday - the first time since last year's World Championships in Tianjin, China - after Chai returned from training in Beijing and Chan from a 10-day stint in Guangzhou. The pair have not trained or played together at any time other than their short workout at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, although both were in the territory for at least four days after returning from their training stints. Chan, who is studying sports administration in Australia and whose singles ranking has slipped to 24th in the world, admitted that preparations for Atlanta have been less than ideal. At Kai Tak Airport yesterday, Chai said it was unfortunate that they had practised so little together. When pressed for an explanation, Chai said she had been ill. Hong Kong coach David Cheng Chung-kin confirmed that Chai had not been feeling well since returning from Beijing. 'The girls have not had much training since returning to the territory,' Cheng said. 'Chai was sick so how could she train hard? She needed a few days' rest.' Chai, who is ranked seventh in the world, showed no signs of her illness yesterday when she left for the Olympics. The seven-member Hong Kong table tennis team, led by association chairman Tony Yue Kwok-leung, flew to Seoul to connect with a direct flight to Atlanta. Coach Cheng said it was not possible for Chan and Chai to train together in Beijing because the sports centre there was too small and there were too few tables. The Hong Kong duo have until Tuesday - when the women's doubles event begins in Atlanta - to get their much-needed practice. Last week, Chan and Chai were given a huge boost when they were seeded third for the Centennial Games. The pair will not face the highly fancied Chinese players until at least the semi-final stage, which would guarantee them a bronze medal as there is no play-off for third place. The pair were exuberant after receiving news of their seeding last week and said it was 'great news' for Hong Kong. They said that not having to face China in the early stages would boost their chance of reaching the semi-final and winning a medal. For the singles event, Chai is seeded fifth while Chan is seeded 15th. It is the doubles event, though, that the two will have to concentrate on. In Barcelona four years ago, they reached the quarter-finals, narrowly missing out on a medal. Chai also reached the quarter-final of the singles in Barcelona, but at 30, she will be hard pressed to improve on that performance. The pair showed good form last year at the World Championships where they won a bronze medal in the women's team event.