Road crowns for Cheung and Chan

THE third and final leg of the popular adidas King of the Road series yesterday saw local favourites Cheung Man-ho and Chan Man-yee walk away with overall honours and a first prize of a trip to Sydney to compete in the famous City to Surf road race.

An otherwise impressive race, with most of the top local athletes and four invited runners among the 800 taking part, was marred by the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association's (HKAAA) poor organisation.

There was a problem with the issuing of race numbers at the venue by the HKAAA staff, most of whom are volunteers, which resulted in the start being delayed for 30 minutes.

To give the event an international flavour, top athletes from Malaysia and the Philippines were invited to compete.

Unfortunately, top female Philippine runner, Enateda Sayro, failed to appear on the result sheet despite having crossed the finish line in third place in the women's race overall, and hence was left out of the prize award ceremony.

Also missed on the finish line and omitted from the award ceremony was top local veteran Yuko Gordon, hardly inconspicuous given her many years at the top of local women's athletics.

The race was dominated by top Malaysian M. Avumugam who completed the undulating course in humid conditions in a fast time of 32 minutes and six seconds. He was chased home by last year's King of the Road overall champion, Martin Peace, who clocked 32.38.

Local favourite Chung Man-ho failed to stamp his mark on the race and came in fourth behind Philippine 10-kilometre record holder, Mario Castro.

Twenty-one-year-old Avumugam, who led all the way, had to suffer the ignominy of having to run over the finish line twice to appease the local press, as HKAAA officials were totally unprepared for his speedy arrival and failed to have the ceremonial tape ready to break as he crossed the line.

He was one of many athletes who questioned the decision to have the start of the race in a lay-by off the main road which meant that the athletes had to negotiate an ''S'' band only 20 metres from the start.

Top veteran athlete Graham Smith said: ''If someone had fallen on the first bend I dread to think of what might have happened, given that there were almost 800 people following.

''It's high time that the senior people in the HKAAA were held to account over their obvious lack of knowledge and understanding of planning an event of this size.'' The women's race was equally dominated from the front as 26-year-old Malaysian record holder for 1,500 metres, 3,000 metres, 5,000 metres and 10 kilometres, S. Jayanthi, stormed to the finish in 19th place overall in a time of 34.47, a time which was better than some of the local top men's runners.

As expected, Maggie Chan Man-yee was the first local girl to cross the line in second place, in an unimpressive 36.21, less than one minute ahead of veteran Winnie Ng Lai-chu.