LONDON, August 8: Hong Kong Olympic Chief Timothy T.T. Fok urged the government to increase its commitment to local sport as the London Olympics winds down to a successful end.
Fok, the President of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, lauded the efforts of the 42-strong athlete squad and once again stressed the importance for more facilities and funding for sport in Hong Kong at a press conference held at the media centre inside the Olympic Village.
“Hong Kong was not embarrassed by the performance of the athletes at these Games,” Fok said. “Despite winning only one medal, so far, we are all very proud of our team.”
Fok was speaking just hours after the Hong Kong Men’s Table Tennis Team lost a closely fought encounter for the bronze medal against Germany.
With a number of athletes still to perform, including the 4x100m Men’s Relay Team, cyclist Chan Chun-hing in the Men’s Cross-Country Mountain Bike and swimmer Natasha Tang Wing-yung in the Women’s 10km marathon, Hong Kong’s medal count still stood at one – a bronze medal won by cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze in the Women’s Keirin race.
“Sport is about taking part but unfortunately we are judged by results. The difference between winning and finishing fourth, for instance, is such a small margin and we came close on a number of occasions. We are encouraged by these results and we must press forward,” Fok said.
Fok drew comparisons with host nation Britain who he said was on par – as far as results were concerned – with Hong Kong a few years ago, and said this should be used as an example of what could happen with increased funding.
“Look at Great Britain, at the 1996 Olympics they had the same number of gold medals as we did – one (Lee Lai-shan’s windsurfing gold) but look how far money from the Lottery’s fund has taken them,” Fok said.
“We need more resources and money like Britain. Four years ago, after the Beijing Olympics, the government said they would provide more facilities but we are still waiting. I can wait but the athletes cannot afford to do the same,” Fok added.
His words were addressed mainly to Jonathan McKinley, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs, who was also present at the press conference.
McKinley promised that the government’s support to the sports community would continue and said Hong Kong sport could hold its head up high despite not having a stable environment to work with.
“For the last four years, our athletes have been moving around as they did not have a settle facility due to the re-development of the Hong Kong Sports Institute. This will now be fully completed next year but despite all these challenges they have shown that they are no longer just taking part but are competing for medals,” McKinley said.
“The government has invested a lot in sport. We have spent a lot of money in redeveloping the Sports Institute in Fo Tan and last year gave HK$7 billion to setting up the Elite Athletes Development Fund.”
“Winning a medal is an extremely difficult thing to do but Hong Kong is getting closer as our athletes have shown at these Games. We have always had the potential but now we have shown we have the quality too. The government has promised to build more facilities and those promises will be kept and we will continue to invest in sport,” McKinley added.
In his round-up, Pang Chung, SF&OC Hon Secretary General, said there had been a marked improvement in performance from Hong Kong. Apart from the bronze medal won by Lee and the agonizing defeat of the Men’s Table Tennis Team to Germany, Pang also highlighted a number of other impressive feats including Yip Pui-yin’s efforts to reach the last eight in the women’s singles in badminton.
“We had 13 sports at the Olympics for the first time, including Archery and Judo making a comeback to the Games after 20 years and 16 years respectively,” Pang said.
“In Fencing we qualified in three disciplines in both men’s and women’s for the first time which is also notable and in windsurfing Hayley Chan Hei-man finished 12th despite still suffering from injury. She reminded me of Lee Lai-shan who at her first Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, finished in 11th place and then went on to win a gold in 1996. Hayley has shown this same determination,” Pang said.
Pang added: “We are greatly indebted to the government for giving us support but more attention must be given, especially to our youth.”
Ms. Vivien C.C. Lau , Chef de Mission of the Hong Kong contingent said that although Hong Kong still had some way to go to meet world standards, the athletes could take pride in their performance.
“Although our calibre is still some way off world standards, I’m satisfied with our results from the Games. We had some heartbreaking moments which might have seen us win a couple more medals, but overall I’m happy,” Lau said.