Long distance runner Christy Yiu Kit-ching completed only half her mission despite shattering her Hong Kong half marathon record at the world championships in Poland last week, in her first race for almost a year. Racing in the Baltic city of Gdynia, the 32-year-old came 49th out of the 105 starters with a time of one hour 12 minutes and 10 seconds, shaving more than 40 seconds off her previous best set in Tokyo last year. “My target was to break into one hour and 11 minutes, which means I had to run at least 10 seconds faster,” said Yiu, who has now returned to Hong Kong and undergoing her 14-day quarantine in a hotel. “It was close but the last few 100 metres was difficult as we were running on the beach and not flat road. I tried to dash for the finish but didn’t raise my legs enough. “Although I couldn’t reach my target, it was my first race for almost a year and considering I set a new Hong Kong record after such a long absence, it’s still an encouraging result and hopefully I can keep improving and make it to the Tokyo Games next summer.” Tokyo 2020 hope Christy Yiu seizes opportunity to compete in Poland Yiu said if she wanted to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the marathon through an additional half marathon result, she would need to run even faster, possibly with a time close to one hour and 11 minutes. Yiu also set a Hong Kong record in the marathon (2:34:07) when finishing sixth at the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. There will be 80 runners in the marathon in Tokyo next year with a maximum three runners for one team. A cut-off time of 2:29:30 has been set as the qualifying mark, while others can also make it through the world rankings, which can be a combined result of marathon and half marathon. In a year plagued by the pandemic, Yiu’s training had also been severely interrupted following the lockdown of the Hong Kong Sports Institute complex in Fo Tan. “We spent most of the training inside the Institute, wearing face masks, and of course it’s not as effective as it should be,” she said. “In fact, I also had some minor injuries to my knee and calf before the world championships, but fortunately I was too focused on the race and didn’t feel the pain. Yiu breaks marathon record but misses out on Tokyo spot “We had some worries about the weather before the race as it had been raining for several days after our arrival. There were strong head winds along the beach hitting us all the time during practice, but amazingly there was sunshine when we started the race and the head wind was also gone.” Eight runners set national records in the race, while champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya shattered her own women’s half marathon world record in 1:05:16. Another Hong Kong runner, Vut Tsz-ying, finished 96th with a personal best 1:19:08. Yiu’s next target will be the Guangzhou Marathon in December, a gold label road race under World Athletics. She hopes the proximity between Guangzhou and Hong Kong can give her something like a home race advantage for a good result to improve her world ranking.