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Add oil! Hong Kong athletes making history at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

“The athletes watching at home in Hong Kong—keep training, because it will be your turn soon” – 23-year-old swimmer, Siobhan Haughey.

“I beat an Olympic champion to become an Olympic champion. Before the draw was made, I knew I might meet him” – 24-year-old fencer, Edgar Cheung Ka-long.

Hong Kong flag bearers at the opening ceremony. Photo courtesy: Reuters

23-year-old swimmer Siobhan Haughey is continuing with her magical form at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – she has sealed a second silver for the city in the women’s 100m freestyle final on Friday morning. Haughey touched the wall in a sensational lap of 52.27 seconds, marginally beaten by Australia’s Emma McKeon who finished at 51:96.

The latest win, brings Hong Kong’s medal tally to three, after Edgar Cheung’s gold in men’s individual fencing event. That’s the best performance the city has ever had at the Olympics -surreal, to say the least. 

The Games were a year delayed, over US$20 billion spent — nearly triple the original budget, taking place under the constant threat of cancellations in the midst of a fourth COVID-19 emergency in Tokyo, hot and muggy weather, eerily quiet stadiums – it’s an Olympic like none other in modern history. Yet, Hong Kong’s ‘insane’ run at the Games (as described by gold medalist Edgar Cheung Ka-long), has been nothing short of spectacular.

The stadiums in Japan might be eclipsed under darkened vibes, the fever back home is electrifying. Here’s everything you need to know about the Hong Kong medalists making us proud at the 2020 Olympic Games:

1. Siobhan Haughey: 23-year-old swim sensation who refused to play for Ireland
 

Hong Kong’s very own mermaid in action in the 200m freestyle event. Photo courtesy: AFP

 28 July 2021/30 July 2021.

Born to an Irish father and local mum, Hong Kong’s 23-year-old swim hero, Siobhan Haughey has done the unthinkable. She’s secured a double medal for Hong Kong, in 100m and 200m categories, a feat which no local athlete has ever achieved before.  
 
“I hope Cheung Ka-long’s and my performances this Olympics can push fellow Hong Kong athletes competing… And also the athletes watching at home in Hong Kong – keep training, because it will be your turn soon” – Haughey in a post-match interview to the local press. 

A mermaid of sorts, she began her swim training at the age of 4 at the South China Athletic Association. Early on, her coaches recognized she was “gifted in swimming” and convinced her to keep up with the training. After making waves at the local and international swimming events, Haughey fell passionately in love with the sport. 

Siobhan Haughey making history at the Games. Photo courtesy: Reuters

A regular day for the Olympic sensation would start with waking up at 3am for studies, 5am for swim practice, then a full day at school followed by piano practice after – repeat that for six days a week. The grind ensured she achieved the highest level in piano, got excellent grades in school, cruised through a University of Michigan Psychology under-grad and smashed through several swimming accolades – 63 local and 13 Asian records, to be precise. 

Photo courtesy: Xinhua

Haughey’s coach has complete faith that the “little fish” (lovingly called by teammates), can go faster and faster. The best is yet to come, perhaps a gold in the future? Add oil, Hong Kong!

 2. Edgar Cheung Ka-long: The world #19 who went for gold!

Hong Kong’s Edgar Cheung celebrates his gold in the men’s individual foil during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Photo courtesy: Fabrice Coffrine/ AFP)

 26 July 2021.

The city’s first Olympic gold in 25 years obviously sent the home crowds into rapture. Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long, the world No 19, accomplished the unbelievable feat. He beat the reigning gold medalist of the 2016 Rio Olympics — 28-year-old Daniele Garozzo from Italy by 15–11. And before this historic golden moment, he shook the world by defeating current World No 1 foil fencer – Alessio Foconi from Italy – in the table of 16 match. 

“The reaction in Hong Kong has been insane” – Cheung, in a post-match interview to the local press.

No better way to describe the frenzy which enveloped the city after Cheung’s historic breakthrough and strong attack against the Italian gold medalist. The match did get close in the final rounds but not even for a moment did Cheung allow the title to slip away. His victory not only marks the first gold for the HKSAR in 25 years, after windsurfer Lee Lai-shan’s 1996 success, but also the fourth medal for the city in the history of Olympics.

The HK government is rewarding Cheung with five million Hong Kong dollars for the sporting glory. 

Photo courtesy: AFP

Like with any sports megastar, the journey to the top was a result of years of dedication, focus and hard work. His awe-inspiring journey started in fencing schools and trainings at the age of 10 – he showed incredible promise right from the beginning accumulating sporting accolades instead of Marvel collectibles like the other children his age. He was named the “Most Promising Young Athlete” for Hong Kong at the Samsung Hong Kong Sports Star Awards Ceremony in 2013, “Outstanding Junior Athlete” by the Hong Kong Sports Institute in 2014 and ultimately exploded on the fencing scene with the Asian champion crown in 2016 at the Wuxi Asian Fencing Championships at just 18-years-old – the first Hong Konger to earn that coveted spot. 

Cheung Ka-long against Russia’s Kirill Borodachev (right) during the semi-finals. Photo courtesy: Reuters

Within a week of the 2020 Olympics, Haughey’s double silver and fencer Cheung Ka-long’s men’s individual foil gold means that Tokyo is already Hong Kong’s most successful Olympics ever. And it’s not the end for Cheung at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. On August 1, the Hong Kong Men’s Foil team featuring Cheung will have a chance to shine at the piste again. Add oil, Hong Kong!

 
2021-07-30T12:18:57+00:00 July 29, 2021|Events, Lifestyle|