Sarah Lee Wai-sze

Vivian Ma needs time before she can be world class, says Sarah Lee

Teenage sensation is making headway in the sport after just three months training but Olympic heroine says she needs more international exposure to become a top contender on the world stage

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 March, 2017, 9:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 March, 2017, 10:55pm

Teenage cycling sensation Vivian Ma Wing-yu needs more international exposure before she can become a top contender on the world stage according to London Olympic Games medal winner Sarah Lee Wai-sze.

Despite only three month’s of full-time training, the 19 year-old partnered Lee to a silver medal in the women’s team sprint at the recent Asian Championships in Bahrain.

Both Lee and Ma will be taking part in next month’s World Championships at the Hong Kong Veldodrome in Tseung Kwan O on April 12-16, the biggest track cycling event in the city, costing organisers HK$15 million to organise.

Ma has been given a slot in both the sprint and keirin while Lee will have one more event in the 500 metre time trial, the same discipline she won gold and the “rainbow” jersey at the 2013 World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

“She [Ma] may get some good results in the next couple of years but it is still too early to call her a true world-class rider,” said Lee, who turned full-time training in 2004 before winning bronze medal in the keirin at the 2012 London Olympics.

“You need to gain a lot of experience so that you can tackle different situations before you can contend for a medal at the highest level.”

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Ma, however, has made it clear that she wants to follow Lee’s footsteps in the sprinting events, which is considered one of the most dangerous events on the track because of the sheer speed and jostling by other riders.

Lee suffered a head injury during the World Championships in London last year while her Olympic medal hope in the keirin was ruined in Rio after crashing with less than a lap to go as she jostled for position.

“You would expect these kind of things [crashing] in sprinting events,” said Ma. “If you are afraid of hard training and getting injured, don’t go down this path, or you will never succeed.”

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While Ma, who suspended her studies at the Chinese University to turn full-time in November, may be too green to win a World Championship medal in front of home crowds, Lee has complete confidence in herself of finishing on the podium in all her three events.

“My preparations have gone very well and I am getting better and since I started training here since last month,” she said. “My top priority will be the time trial as it was the first major medal I won at international level [2010 Guangzhou Asian Games]. Although it is not on the Olympic programme, many top sprinters also focus on this event, making it an important agenda for all of us.”

Lee is expected top challenges to come from Kristina Vogel of Germany, Zhong Tianshi and Lin Junhong of China as well as Daria Shmeleva and Anastaslia Voinova of Russia.