Territory's top two shut out of trials reckoning
THE players widely rated Hongkong's number one in women's and men's judo will both be missing from the national selection trials at Mei Lam Indoor Games Hall, Sha Tin, on February 14.
Tina Yu Wai-seung, the 1990 Asian Games bronze medallist, has opted not to compete because the Hongkong Judo Association's new selection rules mean that even if she wins she is unlikely to be chosen.
And Dutchman Hugo Weijermars, a past winner of major European competitions, is still barred by the local association after refusing to pay them a registration fee for his International Judo Federation-recognised black-belt.
Players are vying for places at the inaugural East Asian Games in Shanghai in May.
The association announced a new rule last year which meant players must compete in at least three trials to qualify for the selection the following year, but Yu is studying for a sports degree in Taiwan and has been forced to miss several of the four-times-a-year selection trials.
The problem for Yu, who fights at 52 kilograms, has been accentuated by the decision of rival Chan Mei-ling to step up from 48 kgs.
Although Chan fought at 48 kgs all last year, she effectively qualified for this year's 52 kgs berth by switching to that weight at the three out of four trials when Yu was absent.
Yu, 21, says: ''Even if I beat Mei-ling, the new rules mean she gets picked ahead of me. There's no point delaying my return to studies in Taiwan if it's for nothing. I still want to play for Hongkong but I think I have to look towards next year.'' Yu and Chan unwittingly became embroiled in an Olympic row last year when the association were told to trim their Barcelona squad. The association wanted to leave out Yu but were effectively overruled by the national Olympic committee, and it was Chan whostayed behind.
The two have both ruled almost unchallenged in their respective weight categories for three years and having them in the same category should intensify competition, which can only be good for them. But not when winning the trials does not necessitate being selected.
Another flaw in the rules is that anyone wishing to step up or down a weight has to do so one year ahead of the competitions they wish to qualify for, meanwhile still competing for a year at their original weight.
Last summer, association president Samson Mak Yiu-cheung said the new rules had been devised to prevent a repetition of the scenario which saw them overruled over Yu.
But association president Henry Shing Yuen-hing refutes this, saying the rules had already been adopted at the start of last year and, far from being designed to victimise players, were meant to be fairer.
Yu's hopes are now largely pinned on the Sports Development Board's new code of conduct being applied to judo, meaning that selection trials pertinent to upcoming competitions will dictate selection rather than an arbitrary committee evaluation of who hasperformed the best and attended the most training sessions over the previous 12 months.
Weijermars, 24, is ruled out of the trials on two fronts. The association have effectively suspended him from local competition until he pays a contentious fee to have his black-belt grade registered with them. He feels that as the association are under the International Judo Federation, they should respect his IJF grade.
He is ruled out of the selection trials in any case, as the association are sticking to a seven-year residency qualification rule for any player wishing to be sent by them to international competition.
Like Yu, his future hopes largely depend on how effective the SDB's code of conduct proves to be.