Shek Wai-hung saves his sport after clinching Hong Kong's first gymnastics gold
The 22-year-old pulls off a major surprise in defeating South Korean world champion in the men's vault final
Gymnast Shek Wai-hung saved his sport single-handedly when he clinched Asian Games gold on Thursday in the men’s vault at Namdong Gymnasium in Incheon.
The 22-year-old pulled off a major surprise by defeating Yang Hak-seon of South Korea, the reigning world champion, in the final.
Shek scored a total of 15.216 points from his two jumps, while Yang, despite the support of the home crowd, had 15.2 after he was penalised 0.1 of a point in his first jump.
"It was totally beyond my expectations - beating an Olympic champion here ... it is a great moment to treasure," said Shek after winning the gold.
"Yang was carrying some minor injury which may have prevented him from performing at his best, but it is still a great accomplishment, especially after the blunder at the 2012 Olympic Games.
"The gold medal will definitely push me to work harder in future to strive for more honours for Hong Kong on the international stage."
The gold medal victory restored his lost pride since the first leap by a Hong Kong gymnast at an Olympic Games ended in ignominy.
Shek ended up on his backside after a poor initial vault attempt in the North Greenwich Arena at the London Olympics in 2012, which led to an early and humbling exit.
Gymnastics faced the axe from the elite programme at the Hong Kong Sports Institute if they didn't win a medal in Incheon.
His gold medal came just in time to save the sport, which sees gymnastics secure elite status for another four years.
Hong Kong Gymnastics Association chairman Cheung Siu-yin was delighted. “We are very happy to see Shek win the gold medal,” said the chief.
“We always believed he had the quality and it was a wonderful performance from him.”