Ready for Rio: Sarah Lee scoops her fourth gold medal in Melbourne
Hong Kong’s queen of cycling gives herself a huge psychological boost ahead of the Rio Olympics in six weeks as she shines once again at the conclusion of the International Track Series
Hong Kong ‘s golden girl Sarah Lee Wai-sze collected her fourth gold medal at the International Track Series in Melbourne on Sunday to put herself in perfect form ahead of this summer’s Rio Olympics.
Lee won a bronze in the keirin at the 2012 London Games and she gave every indication that she will be a major force in Rio with her latest success at the DISC velodrome.
Her latest win came in the women’s keirin and although she didn’t have to face major Aussie rivals Anna Meares and Stephanie Morton, the 29-year-old Lee still proved too strong for fellow Australian riders Kaarle McCulloch and Caitlin Ward and mainland sprinters Han Jin, Liu Lili and Zhang Linyin.
Hong Kong’s top sprinter easily won her heat of six riders to reach the final where she stamped her authority with her fourth gold at the meet.
But Lee would be slightly disappointed that she wasn’t able to gauge her fitness against China’s Rio Olympic representatives in the sprinting events – Zhong Tianshi and Gong Jinjie – who didn’t travel to Melbourne as they opted to compete in the China national championships. Zhong was crowned the sprint champion at the World Championships in London in March.
The International Cycling Union Category 1 event in Melbourne was Lee’s last chance to get some serious competition before the Rio Games. She will return to China where she will fine tune her training in the high mountains of Kunming and also on the velodrome in Guangzhou.
In the women’s omnium, Hong Kong Olympian Diao Xiaojuan continued her disappointing form in Melbourne, finishing sixth in her second race. Hsiao Mei-Yu, who will represent Taiwan at the Rio Games, claimed her second straight victory, while another Hong Kong rider, Pang Yao, who was not chosen for Rio, came third.
Over in Hong Kong, Meng Zhaojuan claimed her first major victory since recovering from a severe head injury when she won the women’s road race at the Hong Kong cycling championships in Tin Shui Wai on Sunday.
Meng, who suffered a head injury during practice prior to the Asian Championships in January in an accident that also cost her place in the Rio Games, completed the 85-kilometre race in two hours 18 minutes and 26.4 seconds.
“I can still feel pain in my head whenever I give it my all in training or competition,” said the 26-year-old. “But the situation has improved a lot and I am working hard to regain my best form.
“Missing the Rio Olympics is a big disappointment since athletes don’t have many opportunities to go but I am not overly disappointed. My target is the National Games in Tianjin next year as it is a flat course that suits me well, just like the one here in Tin Shui Wai.”
In the men’s event, professional team rider Cheung King-lok completed his dominance by winning his second straight race.
The GreenEdge rider, who returned from the Europe Tour on Tuesday, won the 120km individual road race in three hours, seven minutes and 23.8 seconds – 17 seconds ahead of second placed Mow Ching-ying. Cheung, who will represent Hong Kong in the road race in Rio, also won the 15km individual time trial on Saturday.