Siobhan Haughey

Siobhan Haughey can win Olympic Games medal, says Claudia Lau after passing on Hong Kong torch

Swimming team return from Budapest after their most successful world championships

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 8:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 10:35am

Claudia Lau Yin-yan believes Siobhan Haughey can go one better at the world championships – and even make the podium at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Haughey, 19, became the first swimmer from Hong Kong to reach a world championship final in Budapest in the women’s 200-metres freestyle, where she finished fifth.

“I am very happy to see Siobhan’s achievement in Budapest and it won’t surprise me if she wins a medal in the world championships or even the Olympic Games in the future,” Lau told the Post at Hong Kong International Airport upon the team’s return from Hungary.

“But the most important thing is she can continue to make breakthroughs in her career and keep enjoying the sport.

“She is a talented but also hard-working swimmer. She takes swimming very seriously and knows how to take care of her body and conditions, always comes to the pool early before the race to perform a series of warm-ups and stretching movements and possibly that’s why she can be so successful.”

Lau was the only other Hong Kong swimmer to reach the semi-finals of an event in Budapest, in the women’s 200-metres backstroke.

“I felt more excited when Siobhan came in fifth place than my last-16 spot, although she did come to the warm-up pool to congratulate me after watching the results,” said Lau, who brought the curtain down on a 12-year international career after the world championships.

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Haughey did not return to Hong Kong with her teammates, having flown back to Michigan University to prepare for the World University Games.

A Michigan graduate herself, Lau paid tribute to her university swimming programme for helping Hong Kong produce its best ever result at the world championships.

“Siobhan sought advice from me when she was looking for an overseas university to further her study and swimming career and I highly recommended Michigan to her,” added Lau.

“Our school has a very strong swimming programme and the coaches are very attentive to each swimmer so that our potential can be fully developed.”

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Lau said she had decided before the world championships started that it would be her final event.

“It was the best present [reaching the last 16] before bidding farewell to my sporting career, a perfect ending,” said Lau, the third Hong Kong swimmer to reach a world championships semi-final after Stephanie Au Hoi-shun (Barcelona 2013) and Haughey (Kazan 2015, Budapest 2017).

“After so many years in swimming, it’s time to move on. My departure can give more opportunities to the up-and-comers, just like when I first took part in the world championships in 2009.

“There have been many good memories over these years but certainly I would miss the training days with my fellow teammates as I have met them more than my family members.”

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And Lau said she had already booked tickets to go and cheer Haughey on at the World University Games in Taipei in two weeks.

“I still love the sport, although I prefer not to compete in the pool,” she said. “It would be a great and new experience of cheering on from the spectator stand for my fellow Hong Kong team members and other swimmers from Michigan University.”