Asian Games: rowing coach Chris Perry proud countries he’s helped over past 32 years now challenging Hong Kong
Hong Kong have five boats in the finals in Palembang with the men’s eights taking part for the first time since Seoul in 1986
The last time Hong Kong competed in the eights event at the Asian Games was 32 years ago in Seoul. Hong Kong finished fourth and Chris Perry was the coach.
The Hong Kong eights return to the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018 and Perry is still the coach but this time he is hoping for a better result.
Perry has seen the evolution of rowing in Asia over more than three decades and he has played a part in the rise of many countries who are today challenging for medals at regional level.
“It’s a pretty high standard this year with more countries in the medal hunt than in the past,” said Perry from Palembang, where Hong Kong have qualified five boats into the medal finals on Thursday and Friday.
“China is still generally dominant but a lot of other countries have come up,” added Perry, who has worked on development programmes around Asia as an international consultant. “I helped a lot of the countries formulate their development plans and trained their coaches.”
Perry said when he started coaching at the Hong Kong Sports Institute that China, Japan and South Korea were the dominant countries, with Hong Kong and India also boasting strong rowers.
“Now no more,” said Perry, who coached his wife, Ho Kim-fai, to Asian Games silver in 1994 and East Asian Games gold in 1993. “Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Indonesia are all now challenging for medals.”
On Wednesday, Chiu Hin-chun won his lightweight men’s singles repechage with ease and is now in the medal final on Friday. The lightweight men’s eight also qualified for the final after placing second today behind India in which they were two seconds faster in the first 500 metres than in their heat.
“We still need to pick up a couple more to be in the medal hunt in the final,” Perry said. “Eights tactics are less familiar to our athletes. It’s the first time we have competed in the eights event since the Seoul Asian Games in 1986 – when I first coached Hong Kong. We were fourth on that occasion.
“All the repechages are finished now and we have five boats in medal finals over next two days. The lightweight men and women singles have a good medal chance. Men’s single and lightweight eight will be a close battle for third, fourth and fifth.
“For the lightweight four, we’re not sure. They were struggling a bit in the heats and repechages.”
Perry said he was satisfied with the strategy during the heats to aim for the repechages instead of expending energy trying to gain direct entry into the finals
“It's a good team spirit over all. Everyone is in good health at the moment. We have been handling the heat with good recovery strategies,” he said.
“We’re quite happy to have had the extra repechage races as it allowed more time to get used to the lake after the late arrival of the boats. We are getting the feel of the water now.”