For Hong Kong athletes at the 2020 Olympics , the journey to Tokyo is unlike any path travelled by their predecessors going back to the city’s debut at the 1952 Games in Helsinki. And it’s not only because of the Covid-19 pandemic that forced the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Games by one year. When the action officially begins on Saturday, Hong Kong are looking at four genuine medal hopes – never before have Hong Kong had so many athletes of world-class standard who are on a par with the best in their respective sports. Based on world rankings, recent performances and experience, the four Hong Kong athletes who stand out as medal chances are track cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze, fencer Vivian Kong Man-wai, swimmer Siobhan Haughey and karateka Grace Lau Mo-sheung. When windsurfer Lee Lai-shan won gold in Atlanta in 1996 – Hong Kong’s first Olympic medal – she was one of only two medal hopes, the other being the table tennis women’s pair of Chan Tan-lui and Chai Po-wa. Since then, Hong Kong have won two more medals – Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching’s men’s doubles table tennis silver in Athens 2004 and Sarah Lee’s keirin bronze in London 2012. Here we look at our four main medal hopes and other Hong Kong athletes who are also capable of sneaking a podium place. Siobhan Haughey (swimming, women’s 200m freestyle) The 23-year-old Haughey has emerged as a formidable force in world swimming over the past few years, helped by competing against top-class opposition in the International Swimming League – a relatively new professional tournament where teams featuring the biggest names compete against each other. She represented French team Energy Standard last season, dominating the women’s 200m races and helping them to the runners-up position. In the first season she was with DC Trident, having previously swam for the University of Michigan. Haughey set a number of Asian records during her stint with the ISL, which she is expected to rejoin after the Olympics. What makes her a medal contender is her times. After finishing fourth at the 2019 world championships, Haughey swam 1:54.44 last year for the 200m with only three swimmers going faster since the Rio Games – American gold medal favourite Katie Ledecky (1:54.40), Federica Pellegrini (1:54.22) and Ariarne Titmus (1:53.09). Haughey is also swimming the 50m and 100m freestyle events, where she may also have medal chances. Time to put hardship behind you and perform, Hong Kong chief says Grace Lau Mo-sheung (karate, women’s kata) Following in the footsteps of her older brother Lau Chi-ming – who also represented Hong Kong in karate – Grace Lau knows she only has one chance to make her dreams come true. Karate was included in the Tokyo Games because of hosts Japan and is off the roster for Paris 2024. The 29-year-old Lau, though, has the ability, experience and mental strength to make the most of her chance. She has a strong pedigree in the sport, becoming the first Hong Kong athlete to win a medal at the world championships when she took bronze at the 2018 tournament in Madrid, Spain. She qualified for the Olympics as the fifth-ranked player in the world and, with only 10 competitors in the women’s kata in Tokyo, she is well placed to be among the top three. Lau won a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and has spent the past year training, mostly in Miami. Since 2017, she has had nine top three performances in the Karate 1 Premier League, including finishing top in Rabat, Morocco in 2018. Sarah Lee Wai-sze (track cycling, women’s keirin and sprint) The keirin bronze winner from the 2012 London Olympics is hoping to make history by becoming Hong Kong’s first multi-medallist. Since her semi-final crash in Rio five years ago, the 34-year-old has grown in stature and is still among the world’s best sprinters, despite the emergence of a powerful young contingent from Germany. The former world champion and world No 1 became sprint and keirin world champion in 2019 in Pruszkow, Poland and also won both titles at the 2018 Asian Games and 2020 Asian Championships. At the recent Nations Cup in Hong Kong, Lee won the sprint gold and finished second in the keirin in her first race in 14 months because of Covid-19 restrictions and her last run-out before the Olympics. She said after the Nations Cup that just to be on the track competing is a victory for her, but she would dearly love to strike gold for Hong Kong in what may be her last appearance at the Olympic Games. Hong Kong athletes chasing HK$5 million cash carrot for winning gold Vivian Kong Man-wai (fencing, women’s épée individual) Hong Kong’s former world No 1 in the women’s épée said she took up the sport because she loved dance, and her father said “fencing was the ballet of sport”. Indeed, Kong exudes grace and poise on the piste, which helped her rule her discipline in 2016 and 2017 and placed her among the best épée specialists on the planet. Her presence in Tokyo represents triumph over adversity after her career was threatened by a right knee injury at the 2019 world championship that required surgery to her anterior cruciate ligament. Just two years earlier, she had surgery on the ACL of her left knee. Kong uses yoga in her training and is active on social media, where she offers fans recipes for healthy meals and gives yoga demonstrations. The 27-year-old has a chance to become the first Hong Kong medal winner of the Tokyo Olympics with the women’s épée individual event being held on Saturday, July 24. Other medal prospects Vault specialist Stone Shek Wai-hung made his Olympic debut for Hong Kong at the 2012 Games in London where he fell on his first jump. He bounced back with a stunning gold at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, where he beat Olympic, world and defending champion Yang Hak-seon. He defended his gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and now eyes an Olympic medal to make up for failing to qualify for Rio. Wong Chun-ting and Doo Hoi-kem are the fourth-ranked mixed doubles pair among Tokyo Olympic teams, making them among the contenders for a top-three place. They face Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel in the first round and need to win four matches to earn at least a bronze. Why are Michael Cheng Chun-leung and Chan Hei-man among the favourites for medals in the Tokyo windsurfing competition? Because Atlanta gold winner Lee Lai-shan said so. In addition, badminton player Angus Ng Ka-long is seeded eighth in the men’s singles and, if he can win two matches above his seeding, he will be among the medals.