‘This is the most important’: Sarah Lee leads Hong Kong to gold in team sprint at Asian Indoor Games
Golden girl chases hat-trick in Ashgabat on Friday night with the keirin looking at her mercy
Sarah Lee Wai-sze’s pursuit of a hat-trick of gold medals at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games remains firmly on track going into the keirin in Turkmenistan on Friday night after she led Hong Kong to victory in the women’s team sprint.
Lee partnered up with Li Yin-yin and Vivian Ma Wing-yu during the three rounds of the event to win gold on Thursday ahead of India’s Alena Reji and Deborah Herold in a time of 34.552 seconds that left the former Olympic medallist delighted with her team’s performance.
“I feel very satisfied for the team,” said Lee. “We really deserved to win the team medal. We were a little nervous in the first round but we won in the end and I’m just so happy.”
Lee anchored the squad to victory after Li and Ma rode one round each to determine who would partner the 30-year-old in the final, with Li suiting up for the decider as a result of posting a quicker time over the 500-metre race.
Lee went into the team sprint with one gold already in her back pocket, having won the individual sprint on Wednesday evening, but she claimed success in the team event gave her more satisfaction.
“I feel this is better than winning the individual sprint, this is the most important win for our team,” she said.
“In the individual events I always have the chance and the ability to win, but for the team sometimes they can’t perform very well. But this time they were very stable and we’ve done very well.”
The event was the first on the international stage for 19-year-old Li and she performed with aplomb, with both her and Ma earning Lee’s praise as well as the gold medal.
“Their times were quite similar. They can do the same time so we just let them try their best and then in the final we would see who was faster,” said Lee.
“They did very well. We haven’t trained a lot for the standing start, so if they had trained for about a month before this event they would have gone faster. A time of 34.3 would be no problem for them.”
Li overcame a bout of pre-race nerves in her opening ride to secure her place in the line-up for the final before going on to pick up the first continental gold medal of her career.
“I was really nervous because it was the first time that I was partnering with Sarah, but just before I went on the track I didn’t feel as nervous as before,” she said.
“The most important thing I learned from her is her spirit because she can always adjust her position during the competition, her mentality and her skills, too.
“She always takes care of everyone. When we make errors she always teaches us how to do it correctly. She’s a great help. She’s so important to us.
“Without her I couldn’t improve from the National Games to here, and I have improved by one second.
“She’s taught me a lot of on-track skills. She always teaches us tactics and reviews the videos with us, and that really helps.”
Lee, meanwhile, will look to complete a clean sweep of gold medals in the events she has entered when she rides in the keirin, the discipline in which she claimed bronze at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
“I feel confident but you know in the keirin we sometimes have accidents and sometimes it’s dangerous, so I hope I can avoid the danger and win again,” she said.