Asian Games: Hong Kong swimmers win bronze in women’s 4x100m freestyle relay
Camille Cheng Lily Mei, Stephanie Au Hoi-shun, Tam Hoi-lam and Sze Hang-yu overcame the loss of Siobhan Haughey to win Hong Kong’s first medal of the Games
Hong Kong won their first medal of the Asian Games when the women’s 4x100 metres freestyle team earned a strong third place behind Japan and China at the Jakarta Aquatic Centre on Sunday night.
China’s three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang, meanwhile, cruised to victory in the men’s 200 metres freestyle final and the milked the adulation from the Chinese fans in the stands as he launched his bid for five gold medals in Jakarta.
Hong Kong’s Camille Cheng Lily Mei, Stephanie Au Hoi-shun, Tam Hoi-lam and Sze Hang-yu were never going to catch Japan and China in their final but they were by far the best of the rest clocking 3:41.21. Japan took gold in a Games record 3:36.52, just pipping China’s 3:36.78.
Au was delighted with the bronze medal, saying the team had done well despite the absence of top swimmer Siobhan Haughey, who is recovering from injury.
“I can’t believe we won a medal. We did it even though it was tense for everybody. We trained really hard for it,” she said.
“When I saw we were third halfway through the race, it made us even more determined to win a medal. Siobhan wasn’t here and we were under a bit of pressure [to perform] but even under difficult times, we still managed to keep it together and didn’t let people down.”
Ever the showman, Sun made a grand entrance and toyed with his fans during the race, turning fourth after 150 metres and then moving swiftly into high gear to win in one minute 45.43 seconds.
Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto was second in 1:46.50 with China’s Ji Xinjie taking bronze in 1:46.68.
Even after the medal ceremony – which needed two takes because the flags fell to the ground inches from the top – Sun took time to pose for pictures and greet his fans.
When asked about the flag incident, Sun refused to discuss it but he was delighted to win gold after two attempts at the 200m freestyle at the Asian Games ended in silver medals.
“Please don’t ask me about the flag, I don’t want to talk about it,” said Sun. “But it is a dream come true for me because four years ago, I got a silver in this event and eight years ago a silver as well.
“So I’m delighted to finally win the gold medal. I’ve won 400, 800 and 1,500 at the Asian Games before.
“On the first day, I think everybody is a bit tense and nervous. But overall, it is not too bad because this time I’ve been training for the middle and long distances therefore my speed fell short a bit
“Overall, it was not as good as last year [world championships 200m freestyle]. I have performed what I did in training and my back is painful. Under these circumstances, I can swim this and this is very satisfying.”
Sun needs five goal medals at the Games to take his total to 10 and lie second in the all-time China standings behind shooter Wang Yifu, who has what appears to be an uncatchable 14.
The controversial swimmer, who has battled opponents in and outside the pool, is on a charm offensive in Jakarta and delighted the hundreds of mainland fans in the Jakarta Aquatic Centre by walking over to his compatriots on both sides of the arena to shake their hands.
In Fencing, Hong Kong’s Karen Chan Ngai-hing was beaten by South Korea’s Kim Ji-yeon 15-4 in the women’s sabre individual quarter-finals, which means she misses out on a medal.
Hong Kong’s men’s badminton team were gifted a walkover by Mongolia in their first-round match but now take on favourites China in their next game.
The badminton women, however, were knocked out after losing 3-0 to hosts Indonesia.
In Palembang, Hong Kong’s rowers are in the repechage after deciding to save their energy in the face of strong headwinds at the rowing centre.
The men’s lightweight fours, the women’s quadruple sculls and Chan Chi-fung, in the men’s singles sculls, have another chance to reach the A final, deciding to save their strength for the repechage races.
“We were facing a very strong headwind and our strategy was to go for victory at the start but after the halfway mark, reassess and see if it’s better to save their strength for the repechage,” said coach Chris Perry.
“We received our boats three days late because of a customs hold-up so I’m happy to give them an extra race. We are hoping to get to the A finals in all the events, which will then give us a chance to be among the medals.”