Hong Kong’s presence in elite cycling has been most keenly felt through the exploits of its favourite sporting son, Wong Kam Po. Following two decades of regional dominance, Wong’s career is winding down and mainland China is receiving all the attention in global pro cycling circles. Fortunately, Hong Kong has the economic capacity and agility to respond.
In 2011, cycling was identified as one of 15 national ‘Elite Sports’ to be given significant funding and development over a four-year period via the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI); the Government’s “elite sport training systems delivery agent” which partners with the National Cycling Federation and Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong with the aim to deliver as many medals as possible.
Hong Kong has never won an Olympic medal in cycling [Note: for comparison, China has won three – all in women’s track cycling events from 2000-2008) but it holds its own in regional cycling events, such as the quadrennial National Games of the People’s Republic of China and Asian Games. Hong Kong also boasts two professional road cyclists at the ProContinental level (Wu Kin San and Steven Wong, both riding for Champion System Pro Cycling Team).
Perhaps the biggest challenge Hong Kong cycling faces is finding a clear successor to Wong Kam Po. The 39 year-old Hong Kong cyclist, locally known as ‘Ah Bo’ (precious), arguably has the biggest profile in the sport of cycling throughout Asia and a palmarès that is unlikely to be bettered anytime soon. The 2012 London Olympics will probably be Wong’s last, though his form this season suggests he still has years in the bank.
The above CNTV news segment, recorded during the 2012 Hong Kong National Road Cycling Championships held last Sunday (results below), offers a glimpse into the local road cycling scene, upcoming Olympics, Wong’s career and the future of elite cycling in Hong Kong. Televised coverage of road cycling in Asia is relatively sparse, and english-language videos are even harder to find. A big thank you to CNTV for taking an interest.