HONG KONG paddlers are not expected to bring home an Asian Games medal from Hiroshima, but Hungarian coach Antal Hajba is hopeful they can make history by qualifying for the finals. No Hong Kong crew has made it past the preliminaries at previous Asian Games, but Hajba, affectionately called Tonio by his charges, is banking on the doubles crew for the breakthrough. He had marked veteran Luk Kwok-sun to partner Lo Ho-yin in the 500 metres doubles kayak (K-2) event and Lo to paddle with Chu Wai-ho in the 1,000-metre race. The other member of the four-strong crew is Chan Tik-lam. ''It is in the doubles where the boys have been able to achieve the standards I've set for them,'' said an ecstatic Hajba, holding the stopwatch which showed 1:46.83 after Lo and Chu's trial on the Shing Mun River last night. ''They couldn't go below 1:50 in the 500 metres when I arrived on July 8 but now they can do it regularly. ''If they continue to improve like they have done over the last month, they may be able to qualify for the finals. We also have a chance of making the finals of the 1,000-metre K-4.'' Hajba, the 10,000-metre Canadian canoe world champion in 1966, has been working to increase the paddlers' cardiovascular capacity - their heart and lung strength. He required them to do supplementary exercises in the gym and also added swimming and running to their training programme to lift their endurance level. There is no relaxation after a training session on the water because it is always followed by a short workout in the gym, with several sets of chin-ups. Two-time Olympian Luk claimed Hajba's training programme was the toughest he had experienced in nine years as a Hong Kong international. ''Tonio is the toughest coach I've trained under because his workouts are always intense,'' said the 33-year-old Hong Kong champion. ''When he puts us in a boat, he expects us to go flat out every time. ''And the workouts in the gym after a session on the water were killing us when we started, but we are getting used to it now and there's no doubt our fitness level has improved. ''Although Tonio is tough, he's definitely the best coach I've ever had because he is understanding and he really cares for us.'' To underline Luk's sentiment, Hajba insisted Chu should leave early following last evening's training session to attend his mother's birthday party. ''You should go and Lo can water the boat,'' Hajba told Chu. ''Mothers' birthdays are very important and you should not be late for the dinner.''