NINE YOUNG champions, including squash player Chan Ho-ling and triathlete Ricco Chan Ye-ko, have been nominated for first-quarter A.S. Watson Group/Hong Kong Sports Development Board (SDB) Outstanding Junior Athlete Awards. The nomination of Ho-ling, 14, and Ye-ko, 15, is seen as especially encouraging because their talent was discovered in an official identification scheme. Both teenagers were spotted when they took part in the SDB's annual Searching for New Sports Stars Programme. The pair have since become key members of junior national training squads. 'All nominees are leading athletes in their respective sports and such a strong list shows more youngsters are coming through the ranks,' said Dr Chung Pak-kwong, director of elite training and sports development at the SDB. La Salle College student Ye-ko was picked up in the inaugural year of the scheme and has gone on to excel as a triathlete. Ye-ko recently finished first in the junior category (750 metre swim, 20 kilometre bike ride and 5km run) at the Asian Cup Series held in Thailand in March. He was one of six young athletes selected for the 2001 Potential Sports Star Awards. Jockey Club Ti-I pupil Ho-ling defended her Scottish Junior Open squash title in December, and won a bronze medal at the Asian Junior Championships in January. She was a Potential category winner in the 2002 sports awards held in March. Other success stories in the first quarter of this year include windsurfer Yu Wing-ho, 17, who won a gold medal in the boys' event at the Mistral Asian Championships in Malaysia. Chan Wai-man won gold in the girls' category. Thirteen-year-old triathlete Mao Yi-man matched Ye-ko by winning gold in the girls' category at the Asian series in Thailand. Tennis player Brian Hung Lap-hei has been nominated for making the quarter-finals of the Australian Junior Open, and Cheung Chi-yip is on the list for his second place at the Hong Kong International Judo tournament. Handball players Cham Wing-kei (men's) and Ng Wing-lung (women's) complete the nominations. The teenagers played in the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup in January. A judging panel, comprising representatives from the SDB, the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China and the Hong Kong Sports Press Association, will decide next week which athletes get the award - a $2,500 cash prize and a $2,500 sportswear voucher.