I can challenge for an Olympic medal, says confident Christy Leung, Hong Kong’s brightest Winter Olympics hopeful

Family of 15-year-old are spending HK$1 million a year to send skater to California for training in the hope she will make breakthrough at Beijing Games 

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 1:14am

Rising figure skating star Christy Leung Yi can’t wait to turn 16 so that she can compete at senior level and prove to the world just how good she can be.

The 15-year-old Hong Kong skater missed this year’s Pyeongchang Games because she didn’t fulfil the required age requirement but next year could be the start of something big for the promising junior, who is already turning heads with her sensational routines.

On Wednesday, Leung, who finished 11th in this year’s World Junior Championships after a ninth-place finish in 2017, gave spectators a glimpse of her undeniable talent by streaking away to gold in the girls’ junior category at the Hong Kong Figure Skating Championships.

The way the teenager glided through the ice was a sight to behold as she entertained a good crowd at the Festival Walk Glazier in Kowloon Tong. Spectators were watching the best ice skater Hong Kong has ever produced and one who could well be a future world ice skating star.

To show the massive gulf between herself and her rivals, Leung claimed gold with a combined score of 165.06 points in the two-day event (short programme plus free skating), with Kahlen Cheung Cheuk-Ka a distant second on 119.46 points. Chow Hiu-yau was third with 106.63.

Although Hong Kong has never been represented in figure skating at the Winter Games, Leung is not only confident of qualifying for Beijing in 2022, she has already set sights on winning a medal for Hong Kong, a first for the city.

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“I can’t wait for the next Winter Olympics after watching the Pyeongchang Games on television,” said the talented figure skater, who is now based in Riverside, California, where she will begin her four-year plan to gain Olympic glory. 

“The standard of the event is getting higher and higher,” said Leung, who turns 16 in December. “And the two Russian girls who finished first and second [Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva] in Pyeongchang were just amazing.

“But it doesn’t mean I have no chance for a medal. If I can keep improving my skills and be consistent at high level competitions, I am confident of challenging for a medal. After all, the Beijing Olympic figure skating will take place in the Capital Indoor Stadium which I am quite familiar with having competed there a number of times before.”

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Leung plans to take part in “a lot of world-class” events, including the World Cup, the Four Continents and the World Championships before the Olympic qualification competition begins two years prior to the 2022 Games.

To boost her Olympic dream, Leung moved to the United States a couple of months ago from Beijing where she used to be based. She’s training to perfect the “Triple Axel” jump under her new coach, American Tammy Gambill, a prerequisite to competing at the highest level.

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Her mother Katie Leung, who accompanied the young skater to make the move from Beijing to the United States, said being based in California had been a real eye-opener for her daughter. She revealed sending her daughter to the US means splashing HK$1 million a year to cover her training and living expenses.

“It costs a lot of money to [send her to the US] but her results are improving,” said her mother. “The Olympic Games remains her biggest target. Every penny spent on her will be worthwhile in the end.”