Buck up or miss out: Sarah Lee urges Hong Kong teammates to do the work needed to join her at the Tokyo Olympics
Cycling ace says fellow squad members still lag behind but they have six months before the real work begins in October
Star cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze has urged her teammates to rise to the challenge and lift their standards if they want to join her at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Returning from the UCI Track World Championships in the Netherlands where she snatched a keirin silver medal – her fifth medal at the Worlds – Lee wants other Hong Kong cyclists to make the grade and qualify for Tokyo.
While the two-time Olympian, who will turn 33 at the Tokyo Games, remains confident of qualifying, she wasn’t sure whether her teammates are good enough to reach the required standard for Tokyo.
“Our target is to win a team sprint berth [in Tokyo] so that we can also have two individual qualifiers in the sprint and keirin,” said Lee, who captured her first keirin medal at the Worlds after deciding to continue her career in January.
“Some of the other teams such as the Netherlands had one or two top sprinters before but now they have four and they can challenge for a team sprint berth.
“At the moment, we are facing difficulties achieving this target but with more than six months before the qualification campaign begins, other team members can try to bridge the gap if they can keep their focus and remain fully committed to training.”
The qualification period will kick off with the six-leg 2018 World Cup series in France in October, with the last leg in Hong Kong in January before the 2019 World Cup series begins in the latter part of the year.
The top nine pairs at the end of the campaign will qualify for the Games while some remaining berths will be left for individual riders.
There are four members of the Hong Kong sprint team that also includes Jessica Lee Hoi-yan, Li Yin-yin and Vivian Ma Wing-yu.
Both Lee and Ma also took part in the sprinting events in the Netherlands Worlds but their results were far from encouraging.
“I was also disappointed with my performance,” said 20-year-old Ma, who was called up for the Worlds at the last minute. “I suffered several injuries before the World Championships and unfortunately I crashed in the keirin in the Netherlands.
“It’s not only injuries. My coach also said I need to be more aggressive in the sprinting events and I will try to improve on that. The Tokyo Games remains my biggest dream.”
Lee and her fellow team members will compete in the Hong Kong International Cup, a UCI Class I event, in Tseung Kwan O later this month, which acts as one of the qualifying events for the World Cup series. Riders from China, Australia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Malaysia and other Asian teams will also compete.