Hong Kong's Christy Yiu Kit-ching qualifies for Rio Olympic marathon
Newly married runner smashes her best personal time at the Prague marathon to go four minutes inside time required
Hong Kong’s Christy Yiu Kit-ching booked a place at this year’s World Athletic Championships in Beijing, and also a start in the Rio Olympics after bettering the qualifying time for both events in Sunday's Prague Marathon.
The recently married 27-year-old smashed her personal best with an unofficial time of two hours, 38 minutes and 24 seconds, some four minutes inside the Olympic qualifying time. Yiu took to social media immediately after the race to tell friends she was “absolutely delighted” with her performance.
The diminutive Yiu has been one of Hong Kong’s standout performers since the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association established a distance running squad two years ago.
She is the Hong Kong record holder for distances ranging from the 3,000m steeplechase to the half-marathon. Japanese distance running coach Shinetsu Murao is Yiu’s coach. Last month, Yiu clocked a personal best 1:14:55 in the Matsue Half-Marathon.
Murao developed a training and racing programme for Yiu that included warm-up half marathon races in Japan, two of which she won.
Three months ago Yiu gave up her full-time job as a nurse to devote more time to train for the marathon, a decision that now seems likely to pay huge dividends in the long term.
Anthony Giorgi, the head athletic coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, was full of praise for Yiu’s impressing performance in the Czech capital and said that all bodes well for her career as a professional distance runner.
“This was a great achievement for Christy and for coach Murao to have reached the world championship standard for 2015 and the Olympic standard for 2016,” Giorgi said.
“This is just reward, not only for all the hard work that Christy has put in, but for everyone at the HKSI who has supported her on this journey.
“It’s just the beginning of an exciting journey and I am sure that under the guidance of coach Murao, who is a world-class marathon coach and has been responsible for Christy’s transition from a local athlete to the world of international athletics, there are bigger and better things to come.
“Hopefully it is the catalyst that encourages other Hong Kong athletes to believe they can reach the highest levels.
“I could not be more proud of her and I’m truly thankful to all those who have been involved in getting her to this stage.
“For now she can celebrate, but then it’s back to work to ensure she reaches her full potential.”