Hong Kong strikes gold in Rio to claim a first Paralympic title as Tang Wai-lok sets Games record
Hong Kong wins a first gold medal at the Paralympics after swimmer sets a Games record in the men’s 200 metre freestyle
Hong Kong won its first gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Rio after swimmer Tang Wai-lok set a Games record in winning the men’s 200 metre freestyle.
Swimming in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium, the same pool where the Olympic Games were held a month ago and which will be dismantled after the two Games, Tang was the first to touch the finish in the men’s S14 class final in a record time of one minute and 56.32 seconds.
Watch: Tang Wai-lok claims gold for Hong Kong
Thomas Hamer of Great Britain and Australian Daniel Fox came second and third respectively in 1:56.58 and 1:56.69.
Viacheslav Emeliantsev of Russia, who set a world record of 1:56.27 in Glasgow last year, was not allowed to compete in Rio due to the ban imposed on his country by the International Paralympic Committee.
The 19-year-old Tang also won gold at the 2015 INAS Global Games in Ecuador in 2:02.13 and the 2014 Incheon Asian Paralympic Games in 1:59.13.
He has already proved his ability in Rio by just missing a podium position when he came fourth in the men’s 100 metre backstroke, but said he never expected such an outstanding performance in Rio.
“I am so happy to have won the gold medal,” said Tang, who only came sixth in the same event at the London Paralympics four years ago. “This is not only my personal best but also a Games record. I have never thought of it.
“I will now look forward to the 200 metre individual medley and hopefully I can better my own record again.”
Tang managed an 11th place finish in the event at the International Paralympics Committee Swimming World Championships in Glasgow last year.
Coach Chow Sun-tin said his charge regained the best form in time for the final.
“He felt a bit nervous in the first two days but then gradually settled down. This is his best ever performance in the 200 metres,” said the coach.
In boccia, Hong Kong came close to beating Argentina in the mixed team quarter-finals (class BC1/2) after taking a 4-1 lead from the first three games. But the South Americans stormed back to take five points in a row to snatch a 6-4 win and a place in the last four.
In the mixed pairs (class BC4), Leung Yuk-wing, Lau Wai-yan and Wong Kwan-hang were narrowly beaten by their British opponents in their last group match and failed to reach the knockout stage. The two sides were level at 2-2 after four games, but then the British players won the tie breaker.
In table tennis, Ng Mui-wui won a bronze medal in the women’s singles (class C11) when she defeated teammate Wong Ka-man, the defending champion, in straight games 15-13, 16-14, 11-8 in an all-Hong Kong clash.
Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chin-ying congratulated the Hong Kong delegation on winning its first two medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Leung said, “The exceptional performances by the athletes fully demonstrated their perseverance and determination to strive for the best. We are all very proud of their achievements.”
The acting secretary for home affairs, Florence Hui, also extended congratulations to the two athletes. She encouraged the Hong Kong team to strive for more good results and continue to pursue excellence in the upcoming events.