Hong Kong’s Sarah Lee shrugs off early frustration to win women’s sprint gold in Paris World Cup
- Star rider overcomes Australian Stephanie Morton in the final to capture her second gold medal in the series
- Lee last won the World Cup gold in Cali, Colombia in 2012
Veteran Sarah Lee Wai-sze shrugged off her early disappointment in the team sprint by becoming the women’s sprint champion at the track World Cup series in Paris on Saturday.
In the opening round of the 2018-19 track cycling season, Lee won her first gold medal in the series since her last victory in Cali, Colombia in 2012. Lee defeated Stephanie Morton of Australia in the final with a 2-0 win in the best-of-three tie while Daria Shmeleva of Russia beat Mathilde Gros of France 2-1 for the bronze.
The result at the famous Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines track also sounded an early warning by the 31-year-old for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the Paris event the first round of the Games’ qualification campaign.
A delighted Lee immediately posted her victory on social media, saying “Everybody (in Hong Kong) must have slept. This is my second gold medal in the World Cup,” she said. “I must thank the support from my team and now I look forward to the keirin with a good sleep tonight. Want to say good morning to everyone.”
In a strong field of 33 riders from all over the world, including her fellow team members Vivian Ma Wing-yu and Jessica Lee Hoi-yan, Lee was ranked second in the 200 metre qualifiers with a superb time of 10.6 seconds, just behind Morton’s 10.516.
All four top qualifiers, who later reached the semi-finals, went straight to the second round and Lee went all the way through including a 2-0 win over Gros, of France, in the last four to set up the gold medal match against Morton.
In the final, she beat the Australian by a mere 0.002 seconds in the first race while the second race she won by a bigger margin of 0.19 seconds. Jessica Lee lost in the first round while Ma did not make it to the first round following a poor result in the qualifiers.
The gold medal provided a timely boost to the team after Lee and her young partner Ma suffered a disappointing result in the team sprint the day before. The duo finished a dismal 14th place.
There will be six rounds of the track World Cup series of the season, with the last round taking place in Hong Kong in January. Riders can use their best three round results towards Olympic qualification.