Hong Kong win a medal at Rio Olympics – well, sort of – as ‘local girl’ Melanie Wilson takes rowing silver for Team GB

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 1:49am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 1:49am

Hong Kong shared in a silver medal at the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon on Saturday – although it was under the Great Britain flag as Melanie Wilson and her teammates finished second in rowing’s women’s eights race at the Rio Olympics.

The British team were considered one of the teams capable of dethroning the all-conquering Americans, who were after their third straight Olympic gold. But the US were simply too strong for all teams and crossed the line almost three seconds ahead of the Britons.

Romania took third with a gutsy effort, almost pipping the British to the silver medal in the final few metres.

Wilson was brought up in Hong Kong and attended Island School before leaving for her studies in the Britain.

“I grew up in Hong Kong and feel close to it,” said Wilson. “The support I’ve received from all my friends there has been incredible and really helped.

“Living in London I’m incredibly proud to be representing Great Britain as I’ve said before there’s always a little bit of Hong Kong in the boat when I race.”

She still holds a Hong Kong permanent ID card and said before the race that she would be taking a little bit of Hong Kong with her in the boat.

It is Wilson’s first Olympic medal having finished sixth in the women’s fours at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Canada jumped out to an early lead after 20 seconds in the 2,000m race with Great Britain falling slightly behind the pack. The Netherlands came into play in lane one and exchanged leads with the Canadians less than a minute into the contest.

Britain, meanwhile, fell behind into a two-metre deficit at the back of the pack a full seven metres behind the United States, but started to claw their way back.

Canada then stormed into the lead with US and Britain seemingly struggling.

The US moved into contention around the 800m mark and eventually took the lead just after the halfway mark.

The British team, notorious for their slow starts, gradually moved up a gear and into fourth around the 1,200m and by the 1,500m mark were challenging Canada for second place, less than two-tenths of a second behind.

The gold medal by this time was beyond all teams except the United States with Britain storming into second 11 metres behind.

The British had a strong finish, but so did the Romanians, who briefly held second place with about 50 metres to go, but the British women made a final push and ensure the silver by 0.12 of a second.

Wilson is expected to retire from rowing after the Olympics and pursue a career in medicine. She plans to visit Hong Kong at the end of summer.