‘I can go even faster’: Hong Kong’s sole representative at the world athletics championships on her Rio woe and going quicker in London
Jessica Ching Siu-nga missed out on qualifying for the Rio Games last year but is determined to impress at the worlds in London
Jessica Ching Siu-nga walked to her dream when she became the solitary Hong Kong representative in London for the world athletics championships after shrugging off the disappointment of failing to make the Rio Olympics last summer.
Although her presence at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford won’t register when she shares a stage with superstar Usain Bolt or the hometown hero Mo Farah, who are making their last appearances at the biennial event, the 30-year-old race walker’s persistence is second to none.
“It was a big loss for her after failing to make it to the Rio Games as she was so close,” said Hong Kong Athletic Association senior vice chairman Simon Yeung Sai-mo, who is in London for an upcoming IAAF meeting.
“Despite her age, she kept trying until her dream of racing in a major event was achieved. The world championships is the most important event in athletics and as the sole Hong Kong qualifier, we feel proud of her.”
Ching, who is now in the UK for her final buildup to the London event, said she went through a difficult period after her Olympic disappointment.
“I couldn’t go to Rio which was so disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world,” she said. “I used that whole year to get back to my training and tried to hit that one hour and 36 minutes (the qualifying mark for the Rio Olympics and the world championships).
“I was not in regular training from August to December last year because of a foot injury. One of the athletic trainers said I needed to rest completely or I might not be able to race during spring.
“But as an athlete, it’s difficult to ‘rest’. I kept training and at the same time spending unlimited hours on my treatment until I could get back to normal training in January, which was followed by a demanding 110 to 130 kilometres a week as a normal schedule.”
And Ching’s persistence finally paid off when she finished third at the Hungarian national 20 kilometre race walking championships in April with a time of 1:35.13, shattering her Hong Kong record by one minute and 36 seconds, a full 47 seconds faster than the required qualification mark.
“From that finishing photo, you can see my emotional expression. It’s the biggest smile I have had for a year,” she said.
Ching said before her departure she had reserved some energy during the race in Hungary and now looked forward to securing an even better time in London.
“I can go 40 seconds to one minute faster. Let’s see,” she said.
The 20 kilometre walk race is on August 13, the last day of the London championships.