Lee Ka-man’s last chance for gold? Hong Kong rower to make record fifth Asian Games appearance in Jakarta
The 31-year-old has won three silver medals at the Asiad but never top prize but she hopes to change all that in the hot and steaming conditions in Indonesia
Veteran Lee Ka-man will make a record fifth appearance at the Asian Games, in Jakarta next month, hoping to finally snare gold in probably her last participation at the regional games.
Since bursting on the scene as a prodigious talent at just 15 years old at the 2002 Busan Asian Games, the 31-year-old female rower has tried and failed to take the top prize at the Asiad. She came close on three occasions, however, winning first a silver at the 2006 Games in Doha. Another two silver medals came at the last Asian Games in Incheon four years ago in the women’s lightweight single sculls and open single sculls – but gold has eluded her so far.
Lee knows this could her last chance to finally break through but she admitted that her advanced age will not hold her in good stead in the steaming conditions expected in Jakarta.
“This will probably be my last Asian Games. I am not young any more,” said Lee, who has also represented Hong Kong at two Olympics.
“It always remains a target of mine to finish with a gold medal at the Asian Games but it’s going to be a big challenge for me.
“I am four years older than I was during the Incheon Games  and the hot and humid weather in Indonesia will also make it much tougher than the previous Games.
“I failed to win gold at the Games four years ago but of course I would do my best in Indonesia to make amends. The Asian Games is the highest level competition in the region and there are many rowers who know each other well. I have been making progress over the last four years but rowers from other countries are also making progress, and there will be a strong challenge from the powerful Chinese rowers this time.”
Coach Chris Perry said he was proud of the hard work and commitment that Lee has shown through the years, saying she remains a role model to the team.
“She is very tough and dedicated, trains hard and continues to improve,” said Perry. “She also took part in two Olympic Games and is a role model to the team because of her focus and commitment to training.
“The goal is always to do our best and see if we can get a gold but it will be hard because China will send their best lightweight rowers to Indonesia, which they didn’t do in Incheon.”
To enhance Lee’s gold medal hopes, Perry decided to enter his charge in the lightweight sculls category only and not double up in the open event like they did in Incheon.
“In previous games we put her in several events but racing in the hot and humid environment will take its toll on the body as recovery is an issue,” he said. “We have to work on where her strength is which is the lightweight event and allow her plenty of time for recovery. I think this is the best strategy this time.”
Perry also places high hopes on Chiu Hin-chun, who will be competing in the men’s lightweight single sculls. “He has made fantastic progress this year and has won medals in Europe. He will be very competitive but again the Chinese scullers will be very strong.
“We will also send a lightweight men’s eight team as we have a strong team this year. We managed to find eight rowers for the first time since the 1986 Asian Games when we finished fourth. China will not be sending a team in the men’s eight but the host country will be very strong as we lost to them in Europe. We still have a few more weeks to pick up the pace and we also need good cohesion as the rowers have to gel.”