Hong Kong’s top athletes deserve a pay rise, says Sports Institute chairman
Lam Tai-fai is urging the government to provide more financial support to our dedicated athletes in the wake of the city’s record-breaking success at the Asian Games in Jakarta
A senior Hong Kong sports official has appealed to the government for more financial aid after the city’s golden success at the recent Asian Games in Jakarta.
Sports Institute chairman Lam Tai-fai said Hong Kong’s hard-working and dedicated athletes deserve a “pay rise” after returning home with eight gold, 18 silver and 20 bronze medals from the Indonesia Asian Games, which ended earlier this month.
Lam said Hong Kong athletes proved they could rise to the occasion but he wants more money pumped into local sports as they gear towards the Tokyo Olympics in two years’ time.
“There is always pressure on us to perform well, especial when we send a big squad to the Asian Games as we did this time,” said Lam of the 560-plus athletes who competed in Jakarta. “Even I could not sleep well, worrying about our results. But the pressure eased as we performed well. Our results really surprised me.”
“After returning with such good results from Jakarta, I strongly believe the athletes deserve better financial support. I will discuss this with the government. Given the government’s big [financial] surplus, we should do more to support our athletes.”
Hong Kong won its biggest medal haul ever at multi-sport Games (46) with eight golds matching the city’s best achieved at the 2010 Guangzhou Games.
An athlete under the elite A category (Asian Games medallist) receives a monthly training grant of HK$31,000. Medals winners at the Olympics and world championships in their given sport receive HK$38,000.
Gold medal winners in Jakarta collected HK$800,000 under the major Games incentive scheme. Track cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze was the biggest winner with her two gold medals worth HK$1.6 million. She also had a share of the HK$800,000 collected for being a member of Hong Kong’s women’s team that bagged silver in the team sprint. In total, Hong Kong athletes collected HK$26 million in Jakarta.
Lam said athletes from several sports had the potential to go on and win medals in Tokyo.
“Cycling, fencing, table tennis, badminton and windsurfing should aim high and challenge for an Olympic medal,” he said. “We will review our performance at the Asian Games and identify the resources that will be required to help us prepare for the Olympics so that we can present our case to the government.”
Cyclists Cheung King-lok and Leung Chun-wing, who won gold in the men’s madison in Jakarta, was targeting an Olympic medal.
“The Europeans are very strong in this event and we will need to take on them if we want to win a medal in Tokyo,” said Leung.