Stephanie Au delights home crowd with World Cup medal
Less than a week after competing in the Asian Indoor Games, Hong Kong favourite is back in action and doesn’t disappoint as she wins bronze at Victoria Park
Less than a week after competing in the Asian Indoor Games in Ashgabat, home favourite Stephanie Au Hoi-shun showed she still had something up her sleeve as she gave home fans something to cheer about by winning bronze in the women’s 50m backstroke at the World Cup on Saturday night.
Au smashed her own record set three years ago in Doha as she sliced through the water in a new time of 26.95 seconds that was good enough for bronze in the Hong Kong leg of the World Cup series at Victoria Park. Her previous best time of 27.04 was recorded at the World Championships (short course) in the Qatar capital.
Au credited her bronze medal to her coach and a loyal Hong Kong following, who cheered her every stroke.
“It makes a difference when you’re racing at home as they are cheering loudly for you,” said Au. “And when I finished the race, there was a big roar from the crowd. At that moment, I knew I did well.”
“This is the first individual medal I won in Hong Kong and I did it in record time. It means so much to me.”
Hong Kong won two silver and four bronze medals on the opening day of the competition, with Kenneth To King-him and Ho Nam-wai finishing second in the men’s 100-metre individual medley and the women’s 800-metre freestyle respectively.
The three other bronze medal came in To’s 100-metre freestyle, Katii Tang Tsoi-lam’s 800 metre freestyle and the 4x50 medley mixed featuring Au, To, Sze Hang-yu and Kent Cheung Kin-tat.
Au also had her coach to thank as the World Cup series is being held after the Asian Indoor Games held in Turkmenistan.
“The two events are very close [to each other] and it’s not easy to set a record in Hong Kong. But the coach prepared me well for the World Cup after I did some recovery training at the Indoor Games,” she said.
To, meanwhile, also came away with his first World Cup medal in front of his home fans after being eligible to represent Hong Kong this summer.
“The atmosphere is great,” he said. “When I won a medal in the World Cup series in early August, no one noticed but it’s a big difference here in Hong Kong with the crowds cheering for you all the time, especially when you won a medal. I have probably made the best decision by returning to Hong Kong.”
To’s 47.28 second finish in the 100 metres was also a new Hong Kong record, shattering his own record set at the World Cup in Berlin where he clocked 47.42 seconds.
“There is still room for improvement and hopefully I can get better and better after adapting to the new environment,” he said.
Five-time women’s defending champion Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, claimed three gold medals on the night, the same number of gold as current leader Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden. The fierce battle between the two continues on Sunday.