Nothing to do in Rio but sleep, train and eat for Hong Kong Olympic fencer Vivian Kong – but that’s okay as Athletes’ Village grub gets the thumbs up

Stanford student declares herself a big fan of sprawling dining hall’s yams and sweet potatoes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2016, 8:44am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 August, 2016, 1:59pm

If you believe the scare stories, you might think everything in Rio is potentially fatal, from the water to the locals to the insects.

It prompted Hong Kong’s Olympic Committee to tell their athletes to stay put in the Village.

The first to arrive, over a week ago, were the fencers: Vivian Kong Man-wai, Edgar Cheung Ka-long and Lin Po-heung. And if there’s been little to do but sleep, train and eat, that hasn’t been a problem so far for Kong.

She’s been well impressed with the menu on the offer at the Athletes’ Village’s sprawling 24/7 dining hall, which aims to cater for 10,000-plus athletes with myriad dietary and nutrition requirements.

“I haven’t been around Rio that much yet, but I loved the dining hall at the athletes’ village because I really like the food,” said the 22-year-old, who has taken a year out from her studies at Stanford to focus on her Olympics dream.

“I really like sweet potatoes and the boiled purple yams they are serving there!”

Fighting with the epee, Kong hopes to become the first HK fencer to win a bout at the Olympics. Cheung, who shocked his peers by winning the Asian Championships at the age of just 19 this year, also has high hopes.

Kong already achieved one Olympic goal this week when she sparred with two-time world champion and Beijing silver medallist Ana Maria Branza of Romania.

“I have so many idols in fencing but one of them is definitely Branza,” said Kong. “It’s so hard to fence against her, she is so precise.

“I really look up to her fencing and it’s such an honour to be able to train with her. Yesterday she was so nice to me, because I forgot a glove and she lent me her glove. I freaked out: I took a picture with the glove and with her.

“It’s the first time I trained with her. I had only fenced her before just in competition and I always lost pretty badly. She is at her fourth Olympic Games while this is only my first time, so she has just a little bit more experience than me.”

Kong, who qualified as world No.17 and was third at the last World Cup event before the Games, kicks off her campaign on Saturday.

“One touch at a time, I just hope I can do well and make Hong Kong proud,” she said. “I just don’t want to think about the result too much, just focus on the match.”