Play to our strength
To win more Olympic medals in future, city needs to focus on sports that suit its residents, says top official
Hong Kong must make better use of its resources and focus on sports that suit the city's population if it wants to win medals at future Olympic Games, a senior official said yesterday.
Nonetheless, Pang Chung, honorary secretary general of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, was delighted with the results in London.
"We did better than four years ago in Beijing," said Pang, referring to the bronze medal won by track cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze in London. Hong Kong did not win any medals in 2008. "We also saw some good results in table tennis, badminton and windsurfing," Pang added
"But Hong Kong is a small city and we need to make better use our resources if we want to challenge the best in the world. We have to think about the physique of our population and concentrate on events that suit us best. We should direct greater resources towards those events to improve our chances of winning medals."
Pang cited cycling as an example and praised the work done by coach Shen Jinkang. "He was the one who saw the potential we had in track cycling. He started with Wong Kam-po, who has done really well on the international stage [including a world championship title in the scratch race in 2007] and now he has coached Lee to an Olympic bronze medal.
"It is that kind of forward thinking and planning that we need more of."
With Shen reaching retirement age next year, Pang wants the Hong Kong Sports Institute to rethink its policy of forcing coaches to retire at 60. "I don't think it is the right time to let Shen go, especially with the challenges ahead for Lee," Pang said. "Lee still has a lot of potential for improvement and will be a serious gold medal contender in Rio de Janeiro [in 2016] . Shen still has a vital role to play in her development."
Wong, meanwhile, is ready to retire after competing in his fifth Olympics. The 39-year-old came 37th in the gruelling 250-kilometre road race, ahead of Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins. Wong said he now hoped to embark on a coaching career.
Pang also praised the performance of Hayley Chan Hei-man in the women's windsurfing event where she finished 12th overall. Chan competed despite suffering serious injuries in training that required the removal of her spleen prior to the Games.
"She is very brave and considering how little time she had for training after the accident, it was amazing that she was able to compete," said Pang.
Hong Kong's table tennis players started poorly in the singles but raised their game in the team events. The men's team played exceptionally well, reaching the semi-finals and eventually finishing fourth after losing to Germany in the bronze medal play-off. Tang Peng was the stand-out player in the team.
His wife, Tie Yana, led the way for the women's team, who finished in the top eight.
In badminton, Yip Pui-yin, who struggled to regain the form that won her a silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games, had a memorable run at Wembley Arena. An unseeded player in the group stage, she upset world No 8 Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea before moving into the knockout rounds where she beat another seeded player, Pi Hongyan, a former mainlander now representing France. Her run ended in the quarter-finals, where she lost to eventual champion Li Xuerui of China.
Looking ahead, Pang warned that the 2016 Games in Rio would pose unique challenges. "It's rare for the Olympics to be held in the southern hemisphere," he said. "Considering how far away Brazil is, the big time difference and a different environment, Hong Kong will need to start preparing for the Games now."