High hopes: Hong Kong target gold medal haul at Paralympic Games
Gold medal wheelchair fencer Yu Chui-yee, defending table tennis champion Wong Ka-man and boccia player Leung Yuk-wing headline a 24-member squad in Rio de Janeiro
Hong Kong will be aiming to improve their gold medal record as the 2016 Paralympic Games kick off in Rio de Janeiro.
Wheelchair fencer Yu Chui-yee, who won double gold medals in London four years ago, is still the standout hope, along with defending table tennis champion Wong Ka-man and boccia player Leung Yuk-wing, in the 24-member squad.
“We returned with three gold medals from the last Games and our target is to do better in Rio,” said chef de mission Ng Chak-lin.
“Wheelchair fencing, table tennis and boccia are events where we have high hopes, but we also have to overcome many difficulties in Rio, especially having to travel all the way to South America for the competition.
“Many nations have also developed in disabled sports recently, making it more difficult for us to compete at the highest level. But our athletes are now ready for the challenge with the aim of bringing home honours.”
Hong Kong is a pioneer in global disabled sports, with its first participation in the 1972 International Stoke Mandeville Games in Heidelberg, Germany – later known as the 4th Paralympic Games. Wheelchair fencer Cheung Wai-leung won four gold medals at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta and eight years later, Yu repeated the feat in Athens.
Yu, who has collected seven gold medals since her Paralympics debut in 2004, was appointed the flag bearer for the Hong Kong delegation in Rio.
“This is the first time for me to participate in the opening ceremony in four Paralympic Games and it’s a great honour to be the flag bearer for Hong Kong,” said Yu.
“The atmosphere at the Maracana Stadium is absolutely thrilling with fans filling the entire venue for the occasion. We can’t wait to start.”
The Rio Paralympics feature athletes from 159 teams, plus two “independent” refugee athletes, while all Russian athletes were banned from the event following the recent doping scandal.