Claudia Lau makes the Olympics in the nick of time

Hong Kong swimmer, who graduated from the University of Michigan, fulfils dream by breaking record and qualifying for Rio in the last qualifying event

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 July, 2016, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 July, 2016, 4:09pm

Claudia Lau Yin-yan had two reasons to celebrate on Saturday: She broke the Hong Kong record in the women’s 200m backstroke and most importantly she will join her teammates in the Rio Olympics.

The 23-year-old has been dreaming of making Hong Kong’s Olympic squad for the Summer Games for years, and her timing on Saturday could not have been any better as won her ticket to Rio at the Division One Age Group Championships at the Sports Institute in Sha Tin.

It was her last chance to meet the Olympic A qualifying time but she took the opportunity with both hands to achieve the Olympic A mark after winning her race in two minutes and 9.33 seconds.

Her achievement came just one day before Olympic qualifying closes on Sunday. Her time and record beat the Olympic A cut by more than a second, which stands at 2:10.60 .

Lau will now make up one of the biggest Hong Kong swimming squads going to the Olympics. She is one of six female swimmers who made the cut – the biggest since nine swimmers represented the city at the 2000 Sydney Games.

“I started chasing my Olympic dream when the 2008 Beijing Olympics were held and I am so happy my Olympic dream has come true, especially as it happened in this last event for qualification,” said Lau, who’s previous best was 2:10.99 set in April. “This is the result of a year’s hard work and I would like to thank my coaching staff and fellow swimmers at the University of Michigan for pushing me hard on a daily basis to achieve my goal.”

Lau graduated from the Michigan University last year but decided to stay in the United States, where she could train under top coaches and with other quality swimmers to mount her Olympic assault. She only returned from the US early this week.

Lau will now return to the Michigan University later this month for her final preparations before flying straight to Rio.

Hong Kong has already qualified a number of women’s swimmers with A standard for the Rio Games, including Siobhan Haughey (women’s 200 metre individual medley and 200 metre freestyle), Camille Cheng Lily-mei (women’s 200 metre freestyle), Yvette Kong Man-yi (women’s 100 metre breaststrokes), and the women’s 4x100 metre medley relay team that features Cheng, Kong and also Stephanie Au Hoi-shun and Sze Hang-yu.

In the men’s event, Geoffrey Cheah will have one last chance of making the Summer Games in the Scottish Open in Glasgow this weekend. Even if fails to make the A standard, Cheah, who has achieved a number of B standards, is likely to obtain a wild card as no male swimmer from Hong Kong has achieved the A standard yet.