Sarah Lee Wai-sze

Bike boost: Sarah Lee’s spanking new HK$120,000 bicycle could give her the edge at Asian Games

The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist will use the carbon-frame bike as she chases more gold medals in Jakarta

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2018, 8:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2018, 10:46pm

Top sprinter Sarah Lee Wai-sze will ride into Jakarta with a new-found confidence and a brand new bike she hopes will give her the edge as she chases more gold medals at the Asian Games.

Lee’s new bike costs more than HK$120,000 as she prepares for her third Asian Games after clinching three golds from two campaigns in Guangzhou and Incheon.

Her new, sleek machine has helped her shatter the Asian record in the women’s 200 metres, the qualifier for the individual sprint, in Japan last month. She clocked 10.571 seconds and admitted her success was partly down to her high quality, carbon-frame bike.

“We have to thank the tax payers for their enormous financial support we have received. We used public money to buy the new bike,” said coach Shen Jinkang. “It is expensive but it is also efficient. We hope it can be a new experience for her as she prepares for the Indonesia event.”

The Hong Kong coach was impressed by Lee’s recent form building up to the Games, saying she looks truly ready to do battle at the Jakarta International Velodrome in Rawamangun

“Lee is a true world-class sprinter. She’s in tremendous form, clocking 10.5 seconds in practice these days. I may need to ask her to relax a bit ahead of the Games so that she won’t peak too quickly.”

Lee first surged to prominence when she won gold in the 500-metre time trial at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. This was followed by two more golds in the sprint and keirin in Incheon four years ago. She was unsure what direction her career would take after the Rio Olympics but it’s clear what the 31-year-old Olympic bronze medallist wants to do these days as she’s hungry for more success on the track.

“She is still the favourite in Jakarta, definitely. But she will face some stiff challenges from the mainland Chinese riders. We’ll see.”

Lee, meanwhile, said her target was to defend her two gold medals in the keirin and sprint. She’s also hoping for a top-four finish in the team event.

“We still need to iron out some problems in the team event but the two individual events will be my priority,” she said.

With a team of 22 riders heading to Indonesia, cycling remains the biggest medal hope for Hong Kong as they have also target medals in the men’s and women’s madison, men’s and women’s omnium on the track as men’s and women’s road races in both mass start and individual time trial.

The madison, which was only included in the medal programme in June after lengthy discussion with organisers, will be another gold medal prospect for Hong Kong.

Leung Chun-wing and Cheung King-lok won the World Cup series in Minsk, Belarus earlier this year, while Yang Qianyu and Pang Yao were the women’s gold medallists at the 2017 China National Games. Hong Kong also won the men’s Asian title seven times over the last decade.

“We have a long history in the event while many of our Asian counterparts only started it after it was introduced for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” said Cheung. “They are getting better but it will be difficult for them to catch up with us.”

The two members of the women’s madison team, Yang and Pang, meanwhile, were relieved that they are Jakarta-bound after securing the required identity papers this week. “They fulfilled the seven-year residency requirement only last month and will get their new Hong Kong passports on Friday, thank God!” said Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak.

Both Yang and Pang were not on the list when the delegation held the flag presentation ceremony last week.