Revenge is sweet as Sarah Lee qualifies for quarter-finals of women’s sprint

Hong Kong track cycling ace defeats Australia’s Anna Meares by half a wheel in the second round of the competition and then hugs her rival, who was blamed for Lee’s fall in the keirin on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 12:35am

Sarah Lee Wai-sze kept Hong Kong’s medal hopes in track ­cycling alive when she edged the ­woman who caused her fall in the keirin, beating Australian Anna Meares by half a wheel in the ­second round of the women’s sprint at the Rio Olympics on Monday.

Hong Kong’s Sarah Lee back in the saddle and out for sprint revenge as she faces off against Anna Meares

Lee tumbled to the track on Sunday in the keirin, for which she won the bronze in the London Games, after Meares had nudged her handlebars in the semi-finals while the Hong Kong woman was leading.

But there were no hard feelings on Monday as the pair hugged each other on the warm-down lap.

Lee now moves on to the ­quarter-finals, but Meares was forced into a repêchage where she was knocked out by world champion Zhong Tianshi of China.

In the Lee-Meares clash, the Australian started off with Lee tracking her at snail’s pace.

With one and-a-half laps to go, Lee took the initiative, but Meares fought back as they revved up to full sprint.

Lee was half a bike length ­behind with half a lap to go, but brilliantly clawed back from the outside to pip Meares on the line.

‘Just one of those things’ – how the slightest of nudges ended Sarah Lee Wai-sze’s Olympic medal hopes in her favourite event

Lee has been banned from speaking to the media while she prepares for her races and, ­although she failed to win a medal in the keirin, she has looked in ­formidable form at the Olympic velodrome. She is hoping to be Hong Kong’s first multiple medal winner at the Olympics.

Before their sprint clash, Meares had kind words for Lee as the keiren crash was passed off as a “racing incident”.

“I haven’t seen Sarah yet, those sort of circumstances are hard for anyone to digest. I have great love and respect for Wai-sze Lee and you don’t want to see anyone go down like that.”

Lee will face the formidable world keirin champion Kristina Vogel in the quarter-finals after the German beat New Zealand’s Natasha Hansen.

Also through to the next round is the keirin gold medallist Elis Ligtlee, of the Netherlands, who overcame Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite.

China’s Zhong was beaten by Russia’s Anastasiia Voinova by the narrowest of margins, 0.001 of a second, in heat four of the round of 16, but she grabbed her chance to get back into the fray by beating Meares in one of the repêchages.

Zhong also accounted for Miriam Welte of Germany in the ­repêchage battle.

Among other top riders going through to the quarter-finals was Great Britain’s Katy Marchant, who easily defeated Welte in the last 16.

While the second round ­featured just one-race battles, the quarter-finals are a best-of-three affair with the first woman to win two races going through to the semi-finals.

The quarter-finals will start from 9pm Tuesday night (Hong Kong time). The semi-finals will be held from 3am Wednesday morning (Hong Kong time).

In the men’s omnium, Hong Kong’s Leung Chun-wing was ranked second in heat two of the time trial against Dutchman Tim Weldt in 1:03.730, but he was 11th out of 18 overall in the event.