Hong Kong coach hails team spirit as Meng wraps up National Games with a silver in women’s road race
Cyclist’s silver is the seventh medal for the SAR and makes it Hong Kong’s most successful sport
Cyclist Meng Zhaojuan shrugged off a disappointing year to bring home a medal as Hong Kong wrapped up the National Games with a silver in the women’s individual road race in Tianjin on Friday.
The silverware is the seventh from the cycling team and the 16th overall from the 200-plus member delegation to Tianjin.
It is also represents the best result since Hong Kong’s debut in the National Games after the reunification with China in 1997.
Cycling also became Hong Kong’s most successful sport in the 13-day event, bringing home two golds, three silvers and two bronze medals. In fact, the sport maintained their medal streak by winning at least a gold medal in all six editions.
Meng, 28, injured her head seriously during a practise before the 2016 Asian Championships in Japan which almost ended her career prematurely. As a result, she lost her bid to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games and when she returned to competition in this year’s Thailand Open, which she won in 2014 and 2015, she managed only 23rd place in the general classification.
Coach Shen Jinkang sent a strong six members to the 146-kilometre race of four laps along Tuan Po Lake in southwest Tianjin, including Yang Qianyu, the reigning Asian champion. And Yang, who had already won a gold in Tianjin through the madison with Pang Yao in the velodrome, did not let the team down as she stayed in the breakaway leading group until the final sprint, while Meng stayed behind her teammate to wait for the chance.
“We learned the lesson from the men’s event the previous day as we were much more proactive today,” said Shen. “Yang did a good job of staying upfront while the other team members controlled well in the peloton. And when Yang lack the stamina in the closing stage, Meng dashed from behind for the finish. We demonstrated a strong team spirit as other members such as Diao Xiaojuan, Pang Yao and Leung Po-yee scarify their own to give the chances to Meng and Yang.”
Yang finished in a credible fifth place while Sun Jiajun of Liaoning took the gold medal. Meng will receive a cash award HK$150,000 under the Jockey Club Athlete Incentive Awards Scheme. Her male counterpart, Leung Chun-wing, topped the earnings list with HK$420,000 through his gold in the omnium and the silver shared with Ko Siu-wai in the madison.