Japan Cup II: Sarah Lee proves age is just a number with blistering seasonal best time en route to sprint silver
- Hong Kong cycling ace clocks her best time of the year at Japan Cup II, boosting hopes of winning gold in the keirin on Sunday
- ‘I was thrilled even though I did not win anything because I know I can still compete and take cycling seriously with 101 per cent of my effort,’ Lee says
Hong Kong cycling ace Sarah Lee Wai-sze proved a point to the detractors questioning her age as she set her best time of the year in Saturday’s Japan Cup II sprint, boosting her hopes of winning gold in the keirin on Sunday.
The 35-year-old clocked a time of 10.752 seconds to finish second in the qualifying race, before beating Taiwan’s Wang Tzu-Chun 2-0, and then getting a measure of revenge with a 2-1 victory over Fuko Umekawa, who beat her in Thursday’s Japan Cup I final.
Lee was beaten 2-0 in the final by Japan’s Mina Sato, who had the benefit of additional rest following her semi-final opponent’s withdrawal.
“Perhaps I had won too much previously, so when I came in second, everyone was startled and declared I was old,” the Olympic bronze medallist wrote in an Instagram post.
“In truth, everyone is ageing every second … so you should not imagine that athletes age particularly quickly.
“I was thrilled even though I did not win anything because I know I can still compete and take cycling seriously with 101 per cent of my effort and mental capacity.”
Lee began her comeback this month at the Cali Nations Cup in Colombia, clocking a sprint time of 10.931, before improving to 10.771 when she took silver on Thursday.
She has been busy focusing on her studies at Baptist University since winning two medals at the National Games last September, and did not join the team in Kunming for training until early May.
Lee is Hong Kong’s top hope to make the podium in Sunday’s keirin, where 2021 World Championships silver medallist Sato will also be vying for gold.
Leung Bo-yee and Lee Sze-wing also reached the podium on Saturday, taking silver in the women’s Madison with 21 points. Yang Qianyu and Pang Yao achieved the same score, but had to settle for bronze based on finishing order. Tsuyaka Uchino and Kie Furuyama of Japan took gold with 38 points.
Lee, 21, who has two silver medals and one bronze in Izu so far, will compete in her favoured event – the women’s omnium – on Sunday alongside compatriots Yang Qianyu, Leung Bo-yee, and Pang Yao.
She will also be in the same group as her idol – the Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Yumi Kajihara, who was absent from the Japan Cup I.
The men’s Madison will also take place on Sunday, with Leung Ka-yu partnering Tso Kai-kwong, and Leung Chun-wing partnering Mow Ching-yin for Hong Kong.