Stephanie Au targets ‘make or break’ Tokyo 2020 Olympics as she puts modelling on hold
- Hong Kong swimming star thinks 2020 will be her last shot for glory
- Au vows to focus on the pool after Asian Games success
It’s make or break for Stephanie Au Hoi-shun as the swimming star sets her sights on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games at the expense of her part-time jobs as a model and product spokesperson.
The darling of Hong Kong swimming, who was also the flag bearer for Hong Kong at the Rio Olympics two years ago, is determined to make 2020 her fourth Olympic campaign.
“I want to go to Tokyo as there may not be any further chance for me [to take part in the Olympics],” said Au, who will be 28 in two years’ time.
“I have already spoken to my coach and we will sit down to make a plan for qualifying, which begins in April next year.
“I will not take up any new part-time jobs during this period, and I will focus my time in the pool until I reach the qualifying A standard. It’s make or break.”
Au, who steered Hong Kong to two relay medals at the Asian Games this summer, said the Indonesia Games results revitalised her individual and relay Olympic hopes.
“The 100-metres backstroke will still be my favourite as my best time is not too far away from the A standard while Hong Kong is always strong in relay. We’ll see if we can do both,” said the former Cal Bears swimmer, a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, who won a silver medal in the women’s 50-metres backstroke at the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju.
Au set a Hong Kong record of one minute and 0.38 seconds when she swam the opening leg of the 4x100 metre medley relay final in Jakarta, where they clinched a silver medal after rivals China and South Korea were disqualified.
The official A standard is not yet published but an initial time of 1:00.25 has been set by Fina before ratification in December. The qualifying events for Tokyo will be officially published in February.
“My record isn’t really far away from the A time but that small little time gap will take a huge amount of effort to make it,” Au said.
For the relay, Au said she hoped to qualify directly from the 2019 World Championships where the top 12 teams will obtain an Olympic place, while the four remaining spots will be offered to the next best teams upon completion of the qualifying period in March 31, 2020.
Au only represented Hong Kong in the 4x100 medley relay in Rio after failing to make it in the individual events.
Siobhan Haughey, Claudia Lau Yin-yan, Yvette Kong Man-yi and Camille Cheng Lily-mei all made the A standard for the Rio Games. But Au has had the most Olympic experience among them, first representing Hong Kong first at the 2008 Beijing Games.