Hong Kong's bumper harvest of medals in the Asian Games is evidence of what even a small city of just 7 million people can achieve in elite sports. As the region's pre-eminent sports gathering comes to a close in Doha today, our small team of athletes has set a record by collecting 28 medals - six gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze. Their achievements have shown the merits of a policy of targeted investment in training elite sportsmen and importing talent from outside Hong Kong to complement local athletes. The outstanding performance of some of our younger athletes is particularly encouraging. In badminton, 19-year-old Yip Pui-yin advanced to the finals after a stunning victory over world No 1 and Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China. Her opponent in the finals was another member of the Hong Kong team, 30-year-old Wang Chen. Whereas Wang, who snatched gold by beating Yip, is originally from the mainland, Yip was born and brought up in Hong Kong. The success of both Wang and Yip in reaching the top is the best defence against those who argue that importing talent from outside Hong Kong is a threat to local athletes. In fact, in sport as in other areas, the best means of raising standards is competition. As Yip admitted after losing to Wang, she benefited from having a top-seeded player like Wang as a practising partner. In cycling, veteran rider Wong Kam-po, 33, remains in good form. Not only did he manage to score gold again in Doha, he also played an instrumental role in helping colleague Cheung King-wai, 21, secure gold in the men's 40km points race. In windsurfing, although former Olympic champion Lee Lai-shan opted out of the Doha Games, other, younger surfers did not disappoint by winning three medals, including one gold. Our young athletes' outstanding performance showed that succession for the Hong Kong team in these sports is not a problem. That is evidence of good planning. Admittedly, the Hong Kong team's performance is not unblemished. In athletics and tennis, our sportsmen's performance was far from ideal. They now stand to be kicked off the Hong Kong Sports Institute's elite programme next year. Triathlon was to suffer the same fate too, until Daniel Lee Chi-wo scored silver against all odds. As resources are limited, the decision to drop support for sports that have failed to produce results is understandable. Nor is it realistic to expect Hong Kong to produce elite sportsmen in every field. But talent scouting and promotion for sports excluded from the elite programme should not stop. It would be a shame if promising athletes specialising in the excluded sports were not given an opportunity to excel. Perhaps arrangements could be made for those who show potential to train with the relevant provincial or national teams on the mainland. Hong Kong's performance in Doha augurs well for their prospects in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Even though competition will be even stronger in the truly world-class event, our sportsmen should have a reasonable chance of beating the record set in the 2004 Athens Games. On that occasion, Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching brought Hong Kong fame by winning silver in the men's table tennis doubles. The sense of pride that our elite sports performers bring to Hong Kong cannot be underestimated. Every society needs role models to inspire both young and old. Until recent years, such role models have been in short supply here. It would be a most positive development if our elite athletes' outstanding performance stimulates a greater interest in sport, both as a hobby and a career. In this hectic city, sport is an important element of a healthy lifestyle that is too often neglected. A sporting career remains unappealing to young people, largely because parents see sport as a distraction to their children's academic studies. In fact, a healthy society is one in which everyone takes part in sport regularly and enthuses in seeing some of its members excel at it.