Hong Kong should raise its game and give its athletes more support
Ken Chu says technology and varied sources of investment should be tapped to provide more help to Hong Kong’s professional and amateur athletes, who have been doing the SAR proud on the international stage
Hong Kong has collected three Olympic medals (a gold in sailing, a silver in table tennis and a bronze in cycling), a tally that outshines many countries with much larger populations. Our athletes have achieved extraordinary things in world tournaments recently, including in badminton, cycling, windsurfing and rope skipping.
Some achieved these results without massive public or private financial sponsorship, and despite trouble booking a proper place for training.
Meanwhile, a few of our professional athletes have earned global acclaim. “Wonder Boy” Rex Tso and “Snooker Queen” Ng On-yee are representative figures. The latest achievement by our amateur athletes was Hong Kong’s first gold medal in the 2017 World Bowling Championships in Las Vegas this month, won by the trio of Eric Tseng Tak-hin, Wu Siu-hong and Michael Mak Cheuk-yin.
Yet most are not aware of these achievements even though the sporting culture is strong here. Just look at the sheer number of locals in the annual Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon or take note of locals who do not mind regularly spending money and time taking part in marathons overseas.
Hong Kong’s government has offered tremendous support to foster the development of sports. The Hong Kong Sports Institute, with the support of Hong Kong Jockey Club, has also helped young elite athletes. The institute’s collaboration with schools and tertiary education institutes in launching a dual-career pathway for these athletes allowed them more time to hone their skills.
However, if amateur athletes do not qualify for the sports institute’s training programme, they need to look elsewhere. Let’s hope the Home Affairs Bureau, the Sports Commission and the institute itself find a way to support outstanding amateur athletes in less popular sports.
Are the Hong Kong Sports Institute’s selection criteria holding the territory back from winning more international medals?
Since Hong Kong vows to bolster innovation, it may be logical to push sports training further upstream to hi-tech. For example, augmented reality and virtual reality can enhance sports fans’ experience. Science and technology can help us train sportsmen better, and the sports institute has taken steps in joining forces with local universities in this aspect. Eventually we may create thriving innovative sports-related sector even without a thriving sports scene.
Dr Ken Chu is group chairman and CEO of the Mission Hills Group and a National Committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference