Cheung King-lok becomes first Asian champion from Hong Kong in men’s road time trial
Women’s riders Ma Yin-yu and Pang Yao are also in the medals in Oshima, Japan
Cheung King-lok shrugged off a disappointing performance at the track World Cup yesterday to become Hong Kong’s first road time-trial gold medallist at the Asian Championships in Oshima, Japan.
A former Asian junior champion, Cheung was the fastest among 14 starters when he finished the 44.8-kilometre race in one hour and 15.50 seconds, beating second-placed Choe Hyeon-min, of South Korea, by seven seconds.
The Korean twice came third in the same event of the two previous championships. Third place went to Alireza Haghi, of Iran, who was 10 seconds behind Cheung.
The victory came just days after Cheung failed to win a medal at the track World Cup round in Hong Kong where he was considered the favourite in the scratch and points race with home crowd support, including his parents.
“This is a major breakthrough for Hong Kong riders,” said chairman of the Cycling Association Leung Hung-tak. “We have never achieved such a result on the road, even if we knew long ago Cheung had the quality as he has the speed and the physique. We are happy he finally has proved himself at regional level.”
Cheung, who turns 25 next month, showed immense talent at a very young age. He started full-time training in 2008 and just one year later, he clinched four gold medals at the Asian Junior Championships, including the time trial.
It was Cheung’s fifth gold in the regional championships, but his first on the road. He previously won four times on the track, including three in the madison and one in the points race.
“Wong Kam-po has twice won the road race at the same event before but never on the time trial, in which the rider is more or less on his own and relies on his individual ability” said Leung. “He can set an example for our young riders that we can also do well in this event which is on the Olympic programme.”
Although the time trial qualification for the Rio Games has closed, Cheung can still prove himself on the road at the forthcoming Olympics. He has been identified by coach Shen Jinkang as Hong Kong ‘s representative in the road race in Rio.
Cheung’s success was hailed by the cycling community, including fellow rider Sarah Lee Wai-sze, who said on the social media “Amazing ride. Congratulations on his dream come true, who really treats cycling as his whole world”.
Hong Kong also collected two more medals through the women’s events. In the junior time trial, 16-year-old Ma Yin-yu completed the 11.2-kilometre course in 17 minutes and 26.22 seconds, just 11 seconds behind winner Chang Ting-Ting of Taiwan.
The second medal came in the women’s time trial. Pang Yao, a member of the women’s pursuit team who was featured at the World Cup Hong Kong round over the weekend, finished with a bronze medal in the 22.4-kilometre race.
Pang clocked 34 minutes and 5.23 seconds and was 1:40 behind champion Mayuko Hagiwara, of Japan. The home rider managed to beat second-placed Lee Ju-mi, of South Korea, by 0.21 of a second.
Pang will also start in the road race on Saturday along with compatriots Yang Qianyu, Leung Po-yee and Meng Zhaojuan. It will be an important race for the Hong Kong riders because the champion will automatically qualify for the Rio Olympic Games in the summer.
Pang will also compete in the road race on Saturday alongside compatriots Yang Qianyu, Leung Po-yee and Meng Zhaojuan.
It is set to be an all-important race for the Hong Kong team as the winners will automatically qualify for the Rio Olympic Games in summer.