Hong Kong’s last medal hope aiming to give mountain biking a boost with strong Rio showing

Chan Chun-hing hopes the sacrifices he made to focus on training will help to popularise the sport in the city

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 9:42am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 10:58pm

Mountain biker Chan Chun-hing will be the last Hong Kong athlete to take part in Rio, hoping that the sacrifices he made to focus on training will help to popularise the sport in the city.

The 35-year-old is competing in his third and mostly likely final Olympic Games on Sunday at the Mountain Bike Centre, hoping to better his 38th place in London four years ago.

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“This is the third time I am coming here and it’s a good opportunity for me,” said Chan, who won a silver medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

“I hope to treasure the chance when I face the competition. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to be here. I always need to be away from Hong Kong to train, which means from seven to 10 months every year away from my family.

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“I know Hong Kong people like cycling and I hope that if I can do well, it will make more people interested in the sport.”

Chan finished 40th in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and is hoping for at least a top-40 result in Rio.

The mountain bike course is 4.85 kilometres long and requires riders to trudge through varying terrain, including jumping off rocks and riding down steep inclines. The number of laps will be decided on Saturday and a typical races lasts up to 90 minutes.

Chan is one of the top mountain bikers in Asia but he said Hong Kong lacks the facilities to lure more people to the sport.

Hong Kong has limited venues for mountain bike riding,” he said. “And even the venues that we do have, it is not really adequate if you want to train in preparation for international competition.

“That’s why the Hong Kong team usually go to mainland China to train because they have the venues.

“But it’s a tough sport and I’ve seen many riders drop out because they are unable to keep up.”