John Hung makes no bones about the Sport Development Board's position. 'We are beggars,' he says. 'Whatever you give us, we'll take.' As Hong Kong people celebrate the triumph and glory of the territory's first Olympic gold medallist, Lee Lai-shan, such a frank admission by the SDB chairman is depressing. Is the situation really that bad? Has the support of the Government and this community been so poor that aspiring athletes are fighting an uphill battle to raise their professional standards? The Government's support in the area of sports development has indeed been declining judging by the board's budget in recent years. While the amount of money granted has gone up from $50 million in 1991-92 to $78 million in the current financial year, it has failed to match the SDB's expenditure. SDB statistics show that the Government's subsidy expressed as a percentage of its total funding requirement has dropped from 61 per cent in 1991-92 to 48 per cent in 1995-96. Notwithstanding the Government's grant of $78 million this year, the amount is still $58 million less than what the SDB has requested. Inevitably, the SDB will have to look to private sponsorships to make up for the shortfall. From these figures, one may readily conclude that the Government has not been supportive enough. And it's only right that in the light of San San's Olympic success, the community should demand more backing from the Government for sports development. But it is very important for those who advocate greater government spending now to put the discussion in perspective. It is unfair to suggest that officials have not noted the need to train our sporting talents. In May 1993, the Legislative Council finance committee approved the then Recreation and Culture Branch's proposal to award $100 million to the SDB for a four-year programme from 1993-94 to 1996-97 to train elite athletes for international sporting competitions and to develop sports science and sports medicine. The grant was designed to help identify potential medal-winners and provide them with appropriate training, both locally and overseas. The fund was also meant to enhance and improve the Hong Kong Sports Institute's training facilities and other supporting services. In allocating its resources, the Government has priorities and is required to take care of the interests of the whole community, including our elite athletes. Unlike some countries which regard achievements in the international sporting scene as a kind of demonstration of national pride and strength, Hong Kong has not burdened its athletes with such a heavy responsibility. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the Government has not siphoned off a huge amount of resources to support sporting development. But San San's gold medal does provide a good reminder to the Government that much can be achieved with even a small gesture. Hopefully, the proposal to set up a sports scholarship in San San's name will set an example to many others, including those who are offering her cash and other kinds of awards, to think about Hong Kong's other potential medal-winners. The private sector can contribute a lot by following the Government's lead. With the combined efforts of both the Government and private organisations and individuals, it is hoped that Mr Hung will very soon have more cheerful news to report. At least, he should not have to beg.