Nation’s heroes can inspire our athletes to scale new heights

Mainland medallists’ visit to Hong Kong was a great success; now we should build on the momentum to create champions of our own

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 1:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2016, 1:31am

Sport has the power to inspire, unite and even change the world. While athletic excellence is an almost alien concept in Hong Kong, the people of this city do recognise talent when they see it, as evidenced by the overwhelming response to the visiting Olympic medallists from the mainland. Over three days, the people not only celebrated the nation’s success at the Rio Games, they also put aside political differences to cheer in one voice their medal-winning idols. With the right policies and institutional support, perhaps the magic can rub off on our own athletes.

Attracting crowds like showbiz celebrities, the 45 mainland athletes won the hearts and minds of the community during their brief stay. There were cheers wherever they went, be it during demonstrations of their talent, taking on local athletes in friendly competition or sharing some lighter moments in televised variety shows. The visit was a great success.

Olympic pride is more than medals for Hong Kong’s athletes

The positive response came as a relief to those who feared that anti-mainland sentiment among some sections of society would mar the visit. It is good, therefore, that politics did not rear its ugly head. Clearly, the nation’s performance at Rio was a little poorer than expected (China won a total of only 70 medals), but the reception the medallists received in Hong Kong was as great as ever. It is the strongest testimony yet of the city’s pride in the nation. The champions who came here embody not only success, but also the spirit of perseverance, commitment and striving for excellence. The positive energy they generated has benefited as much our local athletes as the public at large. It also helps create a favourable environment for sports development.

The delegation was the fifth of its kind. But each time the enthusiasm for Hong Kong to develop its own champions soon evaporated without follow-up action. The government should capitalise on the momentum to help Hong Kong scale new heights on the sports front. The promise by the chief executive to review resources allocated for elite sports training is a good starting point.