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Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon

Call it a comeback: Chan Ka-ho makes Hong Kong Marathon pact with wife Christy Yiu

Last year’s 10km race winner Chan Ka-ho is running the half marathon in Hong Kong this Sunday for the first time since his stunning win a decade ago

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 6:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 9:57pm

A decade on from his sensational half marathon win in Hong Kong, Chan Ka-ho is making a comeback in the race and has given his wife Christy Yiu Kit-ching a special assignment if he crosses the line first again on Sunday.

“If I win, you have to come as soon as possible as this is going to be a moment to celebrate,” Chan told the Olympian marathon runner in a joint-interview with the Post at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground.

“If not, take your time before we meet at the finish line.”

Yiu, who will be working as a guest television commentator for the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, said she would cheer for her husband in the studio.

“I can have a better look there and if he wins, I will rush to Victoria Park,” she said.

But Yiu may need to plan out the quickest route to Causeway Bay from the studio in Tseung Kwan O – “By car or the taking the tube?” she asked.

In the 2008 event, the then-sports science and management student was neck and neck with Japanese runner Motoharu Fukunaga before edging him right on the line by just three tenths of a second.

“Since then, I have never taken part in the half marathon in the annual Hong Kong event and it will be something very special if I can make it again 10 years later,” said Chan, who also won the race in 2006 and is the reigning 10km champion.

“I may not be the champion again as I know there will be many quality runners from overseas, but at least setting a personal best would be a good target.”

Chan, now 33, has an early morning start at Tsim Sha Tsui among the 20,500 runners in the 21.097-kilometre race.

“I would not say this will be my last half marathon race but I am not young any more,” he added.

“It is not easy to keep your career at such an age as there are many restrictions in Hong Kong as a sportsman, especially in the discipline of distance running. Also, I’ll become a father in April and there will be different considerations in life.”

To prepare for his comeback, Chan has stepped up his training and hopes to finish within one hour and 10 minutes – compared to his time of 1:12:0.1 in that famous win over Fukunaga.

And. with a baby on the way and a lack of financial support for training, he knows that this may be his last shot at half-marathon glory.

“Many distance runners around the world can compete until their 40s but they are earning more than HK$100,000 a month. We have got none [earning that much],” said Chan, who earns a living teaching distance running classes.

“In Hong Kong, there is a long way to go before we can call ourselves world class and as a result, the financial support from the governing bodies is also minimal. I have a family to raise with a newborn girl in April and there is always the pressure.

“After all, Christy will have to start her qualifying campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after giving birth. We can’t have two people focusing on doing sport at the same time. This is not realistic. We need our income to meet at both ends.”

It is a familiar tale for Hong Kong’s promising distance runners – Ngai Kang was recruited to the Sports Institute elite programme after a creditable 19th-placed finish in the 2017 marathon event, but received no financial support.

Ngai was given an allowance from his running club which lasts for 12 months but will soon have to do some part-time coaching to help pay for his living costs.

“I am not complaining as we are not up to that standard as a world-class athlete,” added Chan. “But we also need to earn our living to run my family and it’s not easy to work on both legs by spending time only on training.”