rio olympics

Choppy start leaves Hong Kong rowers facing a huge challenge

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 6:52am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 12:11pm

Hong Kong rowers will focus their training on countering the choppy waters of Lagoa lake after struggling in the heats of the men’s and women’s lightweight double sculls in Rio on Monday.

WATCH: Relive the action involving Hong Kong athletes on Day 3 at the Rio Olympics

Both teams finished last in their races after their heats were postponed from Sunday because of windy weather. Although the course was fit to race on, there was still a fair bit of wind and made for difficult conditions particularly from the halfway mark.

“This is the first time that we’ve raced in these conditions,” said Lee Ka-man, who raced with sister Lee Yuen-yin in the women’s lightweight double sculls. “We have to now try to practice more in these conditions to improve our chances.

“We’re not too happy because we expected better and the conditions affected our performance. We were hoping to be within under 20 seconds of the first boat but we were unable to do that.”

The two Lees clocked seven minutes, 29.87 seconds in their 2,000m race behind heat winners Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee, of Canada and the second-placed Polish pair of Weronika Deresz and Martyna Mikolajczak.

World champions Canada won their heat in 7:03.51 with Poland clocking 7:05.02. Germany were third ahead of the fourth-placed China crew.

Only the top two teams advance to the semi-finals with the rest sent to the repechage phase.

In the men’s lightweight doubles Chiu Hin-chun and Tang Chiu-mang got off to a good start but were unable to maintain their challenge, finishing in 6:45.05, more than 20 seconds behind the winners from Norway, Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli.

The American pair of Josh Konieczny and Andrew Campbell Jnr finished second to also reach the semis. China and Austria were third and fourth respectively.

"The Hong Kong men had a good start but then they struggled a bit in the middle part where the water was a little bit choppy," said coach Goken Sakamoto. "That is something we have to improve upon before our next race."

Hong Kong's rowers had various stints leading up to the Rio Games training in Belgium, where the course was largely flat.

"So we're not used to these choppy conditions," said Sakamoto. "Since we've been in Rio we've been trying to overcome it, we are getting better but there is more work to do."