Martial arts

Hong Kong jiu-jitsu black belt Viking Wong urges National Olympic Committee to fast track Asian Games 2018 application

Viking Wong believes Hong Kong would have a shot at gold in Indonesia – if the National Olympic Committee can get him there – after topping podium at Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 5:23pm

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Viking Wong hopes the National Olympic Committee consider Hong Kong’s case for a place in the Asian Games after a gold medal showing in their debut team event.

Wong led the way for Hong Kong’s delegation of five at the 2018 Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Aktau, Kazakhstan, winning a gold medal in the 85kg category.

The event, organised by the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union (JJAU), doubles up as a qualifier for the Jakarta 2018 Games, but the sport is not recognised by Hong Kong’s NOC, meaning it cannot be considered for Indonesia.

“Although there is still time, I think the chances are slim they’ll let us do it this year, but we have a real shot at gold in Indonesia and we’re ready to jump in and work with the NOC so we can represent Hong Kong,” said Wong, who is hoping an application can be fast tracked ahead of the August event, having received advice from JJAU.

Last year, Abu Dhabi’s United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation teamed up with world governing body the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation to work towards bringing the sport to the Olympics – starting with inclusion in the Asian Games.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has been a strong driving force behind the development of the sport in Asia.

In turn, Wong formed the Hong Kong-China Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association in 2016 with the aim to send a team to the Asian Games.

“We have a growing number of people in Hong Kong getting involved with combat sports, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in particular,” said Wong, who runs the “Hurt Locker” jiu-jitsu studio in Tsim Sha Tsui.

“So far, we’ve not been successful in gaining a seat in the Hong Kong NOC as the numbers altogether are still miles away from popular sports such as swimming.

“The politics between gym business owners has also made it more challenging as everyone just tries to look out for their business instead of looking at the bigger picture, which is the growth of the sport to the widest possible audience.”

Nonetheless, Wong pushed on and was able to make strides in the process, establishing a team of five to compete in Kazakhstan, with two other athletes coming close to reaching the quarter-finals in their categories.

“I understand building up a new sport takes time and the difficulties we face trying to catch the attention of the big players with such a small sport,” Wong said.

“But we’re hoping with proven results we can become a sport with strong medal contenders and catch some attention to be granted access to participate in the Asian Games.”

Aside from Wong, who beat fighters from Saudi Arabia, hosts Kazakhstan, Taiwan and Turkmenistan on his way to gold in Aktau, Hong Kong had Wai-yin Tong and Ting-yee Lai competing at 76kg, and Siu-kei Man and Tung-hing Au competing at 69kg.

Team Hong Kong All weighed-in and ready to go.

A post shared by @ vikingwong_ on Jul 12, 2018 at 6:33am PDT

“These were the most meaningful fights of these guys’ careers, as it was the first time Hong Kong has sent out a national team to the event,” Wong said.

“It was a good experience since most Hong Kong BJJ players are foreigners, so we have a pretty small pool of local talent to choose from, and the entire trip was self funded with all competitors having to take time off work with holiday allowance to compete.

“On the contrary, the Taiwan team had a heroes’ welcome with stock companies sponsoring their whole trip and prize money for medal winners.

“This was a small step for us as individual competitors but a huge step for the development of combat sports in Hong Kong being treated seriously.

“A lot of patriotic feelings and duties are lost on the younger generations, together with the etiquette of behaving like a team and having all eyes on you as a representative of your nation.”

After Kazakhstan, Wong embarked on a gruelling 24-hour journey from Aktau to Tokyo, Japan, transiting through Almaty and Novosibirsk, Russia, to take part in the Quintet Grappling event shown live on UFC Fight Pass.

The 5 on 5 format event is hosted by Japanese mixed martial arts legend Sakuraba, who achieved notable victories over several members of the Gracie dynasty in his prime.

“I died from exhaustion,” Wong joked of the journey, and competing in two events in a week. “But it was a great experience.”