The last time: wushu exponent Geng Xiaoling comes out of retirement to lead Hong Kong team for Jakarta Asian Games
The 34-year-old has answered an SOS call to rescue the Hong Kong team, who have been weakened by the absence of three ineligible world champions
Retired wushu exponent Geng Xiaoling has been called up to the Hong Kong wushu squad more than two years after she quit competing to become a coach.
The Wushu Union has asked 34-year-old Geng, a two-time Asian Games medallist, to fly the Hong Kong flag again after the squad was depleted in strength when three current wushu world champions became ineligible for the Jakarta competition.
The trio was part of a Hong Kong team that won five gold medals at last year’s World Championships in Kazan, Russia but are ineligible for the Asian Games because they haven’t fulfilled the seven-year residency requirement to represent the city.
Under this predicament, the Union issued an SOS call to Geng for help. The situation became bleak when another wushu expert, Zheng Tianhui, was reluctant to come out of retirement, which means Geng will need to showcase her skills eight years after she claimed an Asian Games gold medal in the changquan in Guangzhou in 2010.
Geng was also the sole medal winner from Hong Kong – a silver in changquan – at the Incheon Games in 2014.
Geng insisted it was her last major competition as she wanted to remain coach – a position she has held since the 2015 World Championships.
“If they need my help, I will help them out without hesitation,” said Geng at a media briefing at the Sports Institute on Monday. “But this will be the last time. It’s too difficult for me to regain my physical form as I have been a coach for more than two years.”
Geng travelled to Shandong province for a month-long training camp as her final build-up for the Games.
“I have lost several pounds as I trained with the men’s team to improve my fitness,” she said. “My skills are still there but the fitness level is not quite there yet. But it’s getting better.”
The Wushu Union tried to send Liu Xuxu to Jakarta but the former mainlander, who won gold in the women’s daoshu and silver in the gunshu silver in Kazan, fell short of the seven-year rule. The Union tried to get special permission to include her for Jakarta but her case was rejected by Hong Kong authorities.
Watch: An interview with world wushu champ, Geng Xiaoling
Another Kazan world champion, He Jianxin, who won both the nandao and nangun gold medals last year, has also failed to meet the residency rule requirement after moving to Hong Kong from Zhongshan. Taijijian specialist Chen Suijin, another former mainlander and current world champion in Kazan, faces the same predicament.
Geng will be leading a team of four women exponents, which also includes 2017 World University Games bronze medallist Juanita Mok Yuen-ying, Lydia Sham Hiu-yu and Yuen Ka-ying. Fast improving Mok also won a gold medal in the women’s taijiquan at the wushu world university championships in Macau early this month.
Mok was confident of performing well in the taijiquan and taijijian all-round event in her Asian Games debut. These events will see no mainlanders competitors, boosting her hopes of a medal.
“I fear no body,” said the diminutive athlete. “If you want to win, you must battle your innerself and rise to the occasion.
“This is my first Asian Games and I am very confident of returning to Hong Kong with a medal.”
The men’s team will feature Samuel Hui Tak-yan, a silver medallist in the taijiquan and bronze in the taijijian at last year’s World Championships, Lam Man-kan – the only Sanda player of the team – Lau Tsz-hong and Leung Cheuk-hei.