Hannah Wilson has put Hong Kong on the map in world swimming thanks to her record-breaking gold medal-winning performances at the World University Games in Belgrade. The breakthrough is even more significant as she was taking part for the first time as a fully fledged Hong Kong citizen. The 20-year-old Wilson, a 100 metres freestyle specialist, renounced her British citizenship in favour of a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport in April. Her passport plunge ended a long-running nationality saga and the 'will she or won't she participate at the Olympics' question. It has also given her great peace of mind. 'Swimming for Hong Kong is very important to me and for me to continue to represent Hong Kong I needed to get a passport which I was more than happy to do,' Wilson said before going to Belgrade. Speaking for the first time since acquiring the SAR document, Wilson said: 'A weight has been taken off my shoulders as I now know there is nothing to stop me from competing for Hong Kong at any international competition. I do think I will feel more a part of the team by having [the passport] and am glad I decided to go through with the process.' It is significant that she believes she is now a true member of the team. Her feelings imply that in the past she was made to feel an outsider. Wilson obviously must have carried that baggage when she went to Athens and Beijing as part of the Olympic swimming squad. That she was able to perform with distinction at both Games says a lot about her character. Although locally born, Wilson twice needed a special dispensation from the IOC before she could compete at the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2008 Beijing Games. The Hong Kong Olympic Committee lobbied the IOC on both occasions and was successful. This might have caused resentment in some quarters as it may have appeared she was getting privileged treatment. She was, at least as far as the Beijing Olympics were concerned. For Athens, Wilson was caught in a bind. She was only 15 and couldn't renounce her British passport as she was a minor. At the time her mother, Jane, said they had toyed with taking up a Hong Kong passport and had gone to the British consulate but had been told it was a no-no for Hannah to give up her birthright. We don't really know what happened four years later, when the Beijing Games came along. Wilson was an adult and could have given up her British heritage if she wanted to. She didn't, forcing Hong Kong authorities to go cap-in-hand to the IOC once again. 'Beijing was the last Olympics I could participate in for Hong Kong with my British passport and it was influential in my decision on getting a Hong Kong passport,' Wilson said, referring to the IOC ruling subsequently that athletes would not be given dispensation in the future unless they had a passport of the country which they wanted to represent. To be fair, she wasn't the only athlete to get a dispensation. A number of other athletes, especially in badminton and table tennis, also took the same route. They were 'imports' from China. Wilson was born and bred in Hong Kong. But like she said, it didn't matter where you were from, you still felt an outsider. Thankfully, no more. 'It feels strange not having the same passport as the rest of my family, but swimming is what I want to be doing at this point in my life and Hong Kong is my home. So I am proud to have the passport.' Her talent came to the fore at a very early age. In an earlier interview, Wilson, the elder child in the family - she has a younger brother Daniel - revealed she 'couldn't remember not swimming'. Her mother said she used to hate swimming when she was two and always jumped out of the pool. 'But as she got older, she began to like it,' recounted Jane. The love affair had begun and when she was five, her coach at the time, Harry Wright, predicted she would go far. After all the drama surrounding her eligibility died down, Wilson justified her presence in Athens when she set a new Hong Kong mark of 57.33 in the heats. That time was not enough to see her qualify for the semi-finals with only the top 16 women from a field of 51 qualifying. But she had done her bit, setting a new mark, which ranked her 34th in the world. Four years later in the Water Cube in Beijing, a bigger and more powerful Wilson once again shattered her record in the 100m freestyle heats with a time of 55.32. She lowered that even further - to 54.35 - in Belgrade. She also broke her Hong Kong record (59.35) two times on her way to winning another gold in Belgrade in the 100m butterfly with a time of 58.52. Wilson is majoring in anthropology at the University of Berkeley in California. She has three more years to complete her degree. 'For now my future is swimming for Hong Kong until the London Olympics in 2012. I don't know what I will do after that, but right now swimming and lowering my Hong Kong records are important to me,' Wilson said. Even when she wasn't regarded as a true Hong Kong national, Wilson always gave her best. Now that she is armed with a document which states her allegiance to the bauhinia, let's hope she finds even more success. She deserves it.