Kwok strikes well-deserved Games bronze in freestyle

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 December, 1998, 12:00am

Mark Kwok Kin-ming finally received a tangible reward for his years of hard work lapping swimming pools in Hong Kong and the United States when he bagged a well-deserved bronze in the 400-metre freestyle last night.

Kwok, who was easily the dominant Hong Kong distance swimmer of the past few years, held off a last-gasp surge by South Korea's Woo Cheol to claim Hong Kong's first podium finish in swimming of the Games.

The versatile Kwok touched home just 0.22 seconds ahead of Woo to finish with a national record of four minutes and 00.44 seconds. Woo finished in 4:00.66.

Kwok will now have his sights set on dipping under the four-minute barrier in an event the UCLA-swimmer has toiled to make his own.

Thailand's Sethsothorn Torlap brought the house down ahead of Kwok by claiming gold, while Japan's Masato Hirano took silver.

In other swimming events last night, Tam Chi-kin clocked a personal best in the 200-metre breaststroke final, but could finish no higher than seventh place in his event.

The other Hong Kong finalists of an entertaining evening at the Thammasat University aquatics centre were the men's 4 ? 100-metre freestyle relay team.

They were out of their depth against strong opponents, finishing eighth and last.

Elsewhere yesterday, the disappointing story of Hong Kong's Asian Games team sports received another unwanted chapter as the men's field hockey team found themselves on the wrong end of a further heavy defeat.

Beaten 9-0 by Malaysia on Wednesday night, Hong Kong were always going to be struggling against the might of Pakistan in their preliminary-round meeting at the Kasetsart University ground.

Given the circumstances, restricting their first-class opponents to a 5-0 scoreline can be regarded as something of a minor triumph.

Hong Kong's men's basketball team had a closer time of it, but could not upset hosts Thailand in an event that was also held at Thammasat University.

Hong Kong, who were beaten heavily by China on Tuesday, worked tirelessly but went down 64-77 to the Thais and are now heading out of the Games competition.

In cycling, Wong Kam-po, who is seen as one of Hong Kong's principal gold medal hopes, was unable to make much of an impression in the individual road time trial final round, which was held on the Saraburi-Nakhon Ratchasima Highway.

Wong could finish only in 14th position after posting a time of one hour, six minutes and 59.72 seconds, which was more than three minutes behind gold medallist Iranagh Mizbani of Iran.

Wong will not be worried by his performance as his specialist event, the road race, comes later in the competition. His counterpart in yesterday's women's time trial, Yeung Ka-wah, also found it heavy going, finishing 10th in the 11-rider field with a time of 41:9.10.

In the men's individual foil fencing competition, which was also at Thammasat University, Hong Kong's Lau Kwok-kin turned in a respectable performance by bowing out in the quarter-finals, losing 15-5 against South Korea's You Bong-hyung.

Lau was the only Hong Kong fencer to progress from the morning's group phase after Wong Kam-kau was knocked out of Pool Three. The team suffered five defeats and one win. Tsui Man-sum was also soundly beaten in Pool One, losing four times and winning once.

There was also an early Hong Kong exit at the Hua Mark shooting range, where Li Hao-jian could only finish in 28th spot in his attempt to qualify for the final of the individual rapid-fire pistol competition.

Li scored 567 points in the morning's qualifiers, 10 points away from a place in the final.