Sarah Lee has to settle for bronze in sprint at track world championships
Hong Kong cycling star gets the better of Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite to capture a medal after earlier losing to eventual winner Kristina Vogel of Germany in the semi-finals
It was not the gold she had hoped for, but Hong Kong’s Sarah Lee Wai-sze captured the first medal for the hosts at the UCI Track World Championships with a bronze in the women’s sprint on Friday night.
Lee, who also won bronze at the 2013 world event in Belarus, got the better of Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania in the first two races of a best-of-three showdown for the bronze medal to collect her fourth world championship medal.
Earlier at the packed 2,000-seat Tseung Kwan O Velodrome, Kristina Vogel of Germany was too good for Lee in the semi-finals, winning in straight races.
It was Lee’s second defeat in a row to the German star, after losing in the quarter-finals at the Rio Olympics last summer.
The powerful German rider went on to secure the gold medal in Hong Kong, beating Stephanie Morton of Australia in the final.
“I am still very happy with the result although I did have the chance to beat her (Vogel) to reach the final,” said Lee. “It was a better race than the Rio Olympics when my performance was affected by the poor quality of my sleep.
“But in the end her experience made the difference. Still, I am confident of beating her in future, maybe the next time. Of course I also have to refine my skills for improvement.”
Coach Shen Jinkang said Vogel should have been disqualified in the second race of the semi-final when he felt the German rider obstructed Lee in the final stages.
“The referee only gave Vogel a warning, which we could hardly agree with, but we respect the decision,” he said.
Lee has the chance to add more silverware when she starts in the 500-metre time trial on Saturday – her pet event since she surged to prominence at the 2010 Asian Games
In the men’s points race, Hong Kong’s Cheung King-lok, who rides for professional world tour team Orica-Scott of Australia, vowed to fight back from the darkest day in his career after finishing 22nd.
“My performance was affected by a back injury sustained in the Tour of Shanghai late last year. I could not train properly for a long period of time,” said Cheung, who won a bronze medal in the scratch for Hong Kong at the 2014 world championships.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Ko Siu-wai apologised to fans after a below par performance in the men’s individual pursuit qualifiers, coming in 26th and last. Ko clocked four minutes and 35.233 seconds for the 4km race, just behind Shunsuke Imamura of Japan.
“My target was to finish in four minutes and 30 seconds, which should be a top-three position in Asia, but obviously there is a gap between hope and reality,” said Ko.
Ko, a key member of the men’s pursuit team that had a disappointing run on the opening day, said they had to put that behind them in order to better prepare for the National Games in September and the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
“The worlds is a mountain too tall for us at this stage and it is more realistic to go for medals at the National Games and the Asiad,” he said.
Australia’s Cameron Meyer won his fourth points world title with a dominant ride. The 2009, 2010 and 2012 champion finished with 76 points in the 160-lap race ahead of Belgium’s Kenny De Ketele and Wojciech Pszczolarski of Poland.
Jordan Kerby of Australia won the men’s individual pursuit with a towering victory over Italian defending champion Filippo Ganna.
Katie Archibald won Britain’s first gold medal of the championships with a thrilling victory in the women’s omnium. The 23-year-old Olympic gold medallist had gone into the final event – the points race – neck and neck with Australia’s Amy Cure.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse