Gold medalist Edgar Cheung Ka-long (second left) of Hong Kong, China, silver medalist Chen Haiwei (first left) of China, bronze medalist Ryan Choi Chun-yin (second left) of Hong Kong, China, and Takahiro Shikine (first left) of Japan pose for a photo during an award ceremony at the 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou Dianzi University Gymnasium Final Piste in Hangzhou on Sept 24, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
Hong Kong got off to a brilliant start at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, bagging two gold medals and five bronzes on Sunday — the first day of competition following the opening ceremony.
Rowers Lam San-tung and Wong Wai-chun won the city’s first gold, and Olympic gold fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long took the other. Swimming star Siobhan Haughey secured two bronzes — one in the women’s 50-meter breaststroke, beating Hong Kong’s record in this event, and another as part of the team that won the bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay final.
Epee fencer Vivian Kong Man-wai, a three-time individual Asian champion and two-time Olympian, and another foil fencer, Ryan Choi Chun-yin, each clinched a bronze. Wushu athlete Chen Suijin added a bronze in the women’s Taijiquan and Taijijian All-Round.
Lam and Wong started the winning streak on Sunday morning when they won the men’s coxless pair final with a time of 6 minutes, 44 seconds, 20 milliseconds.
Edgar Cheung Ka-long (left) of Hong Kong, China competes against Chen Haiwei of China in the men's individual foil gold medal bout event at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on Sept 24, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
This was the second Asian Games gold medal of the Hong Kong rowing team, following their victory in the men’s single sculls event at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Speaking to the media after the competition, Wong said that winning the gold medal had always been their ultimate goal, and they constantly kept the gold medal in mind, relentlessly striving for it at every moment throughout their training.
Lam, who was moved to tears during the award ceremony, said that his emotions stemmed from reflecting on the arduous training they had undergone over the past few years.
“We had given our all — 100 percent of our time, energy, and effort — in pursuit of the gold medal. Now our hard work had been rewarded, and I believed it was all worthwhile,” Lam said.
Lam San-tung (second right) and Wong Wai-chun (second left) pose for a photo after winning a gold medal in rowing men's pair at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou (Asian Games) on Sept 24, 2023. (ALICE ZHU / CHINA DAILY)
The fencing team also lived up to the Hong Kong public’s expectations by securing one gold and two bronzes.
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After winning a historic gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Cheung, the city’s first Olympic fencing medalist, continued the momentum in the Asian Games with a victory over Chen Haiwei of the national team with a score of 15-2 in the final.
In the semifinals, Cheung had faced Japan’s Takahiro Shikine. Trailing 12-14, Cheung staged a remarkable comeback, winning three consecutive points to secure a thrilling 15-14 victory and advancing to the final.
Epee fencer Vivian Kong Man-wai of Hong Kong, China pose for a photo during an award ceremony at the 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou Dianzi University Gymnasium Final Piste in Hangzhou on Sept 24, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
After winning the gold, Cheung told reporters that he had not anticipated winning by a large margin. He said he had just focused on the practice and tried to enjoy the match with less stress. He said his performance during the group stage was average, but gradually adjusted his mindset and achieved a good result. He also expressed appreciation for the support of the live audience and his teammates.
Cheung added that the cheers and encouragement from the live audience were inspiring, and he expressed gratitude to his teammates for their companionship and support throughout his training.
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In Hong Kong, various shopping malls and 36 designated sports centers across the city broadcast Saturday’s opening ceremony and Sunday’s competitions, attracting the attention of many residents, who watched the grand event and cheered for the athletes.
Epee fencer Vivian Kong Man-wai (right) competes against Sofiya Nikolaichuk during a match of the women's epée individual at the 19th Asian Games in the Hangzhou Dianzi University Gymnasium on Sept 24, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
Some residents said the atmosphere of watching sports events in shopping malls is livelier than it is at home. They also said that they rarely watch sports events live on regular days, believing the broadcasting at public venues draws more attention to the athletes and also increases the number of customers at shopping malls.
Many also applauded and cheered when seeing the Hong Kong team bag its first gold medal and Cheung win the fencing final, saying the good result has offered greater motivation for the general public to engage in sports.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu personally watched some events at the venues on Sunday to show his support for the athletes.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu (front row, center) and Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung (front row, right) watch a match of the men's individual foil gold medal bout event at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on Sept 24, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
He said Hong Kong athletes’ performances on the first day, including some record-breaking results, were uplifting. Lee believes that all athletes will give their best at the Asian Games, and hopes they will continue to achieve in the coming days.
Today and Tuesday, Haughey will compete in her strong events — the women’s 200m and 100m freestyles.
She won two silver medals in the events at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, becoming the first Hong Kong swimmer to win an Olympic medal.
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