Hong Kong strike gold with best Asian Games medal haul to outshine Singapore in Jakarta and Palembang
Largest team comes back with 46 medals to improve on Incheon 2014 return and match eight golds of Guangzhou games in 2010
Hong Kong ended their 2018 Asian Games odyssey with their best-ever total medal haul of 46 – surpassing the 42 they won in Incheon four years ago and equalling the eight gold medals they won in Guangzhou in 2010.
They also won 18 silver and 20 bronze medals.
In relation to previous Asian Games tallies, Hong Kong can consider Jakarta and Palembang to be a successful venture as far as medal count is concerned. But there will be disappointment that more of the 18 silver medals they won over the two weeks were not converted into gold.
But first, a comparison between their performances in Incheon and Indonesia. According to the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, 586 athletes represented Hong Kong in Indonesia.
Of that total, 260 of them were among nine teams sports – baseball, basketball, football, handball, hockey, rugby sevens, softball, volleyball and water polo. Apart from baseball (men) and softball (women) all fielded men’s and women’s teams, with beach volleyball not considered a team sport.
Therefore, about 44 per cent of the Hong Kong team were chasing 16 medals, of which only one was successful with the men’s rugby sevens team winning their first ever gold.
The other 320 athletes – 56 per cent of the team – were chasing glory in 31 sports, and emerged with 45 medals in 17 of them, including seven golds.
In Incheon, Hong Kong sent 472 athletes, 212 of them, or 45 per cent in eight teams sports (excluding beach volleyball), chasing 14 medals and winning one – a silver in men’s rugby sevens.
That left 260 athletes to win 41 medals in 17 sports, including six gold medals.
Of the eight gold medallists in Indonesia three are repeats of Incheon – Sarah Lee Wai-sze’s track cycling keirin and sprint double and Shek Wai-hung’s men’s gymnastic vault.
Equestrianism (Jacqueline Siu Wing-ying), track cycling men’s madison, rugby sevens men, squash singles men (Leo Au Chun-ming) and women’s team squash are first-time gold medallists, while windsurfing men and women and Wu Siu-hong (bowling) failed to repeat gold medals from Incheon.
Statistically, it is difficult to say if Hong Kong have improved but it is safe to conclude that they have not regressed since the 2014 Games.
In some sports, Hong Kong athletes have shown greater maturity than they have shown in the past – cycling and squash spring to mind. However, in others, the old Hong Kong psychological weaknesses were plain to see.
Hong Kong’s fencers will be reflecting on a host of missed chances.
Nicholas Choi was 30 seconds from the foil gold while Vivian Kong Man-wai should be disappointed with a bronze when she was favoured for gold in the individual épée.
Hong Kong won eight medals in fencing, two silvers and six bronzes. Both silvers and at least one of the bronzes should have been gold.
The track cyclists were among the most impressive for Hong Kong. While Sarah Lee expectedly blitzed her rivals in her two events, the men’s madison team of Leung Chun-wing and Cheung King-lok showed great maturity in biding their time and reeling in the Koreans for a resounding madison triumph.
Au also showed class to come from behind in his squash singles semi-final against India’s Saurav Ghosal to beat fellow Hongkonger Max Lee Ho-yin in the final to give Hong Kong a one-two finish.
Siu was Hong Kong’s first gold medallist of the Games and Shek was delighted to be able to defend his vault title having suffered a slump in form after Incheon.
The women’s squash team surprised all by winning gold against India in the final and the Hong Kong rugby sevens team provided the perfect flourish with a powerful victory over Japan in the final to make up for heartbreak in the past two Games.