Hong Kong reaches for the stars
With a small population of just over seven million people, is it really possible for Hong Kong teams to compete on the sporting world stage? In one particular sport, it can — track cycling. However, as you’ll find out, it’s not a sport for the faint-hearted or the inexperienced.
What is track cycling?
Get on a bike with no brakes and then cycle around a track with steep slopes at high speed — that’s track cycling. You need to be fit, super speedy and fearless. You also need to have great cycling skills. As you jostle for space in the pack, you get very close to other cyclists. One wrong move, and you could lose your balance and fall off. Skidding on your bum across the smooth, wooden surface of the track is very painful (Ouch!) … and you lose the race too! (Double ouch!)
Leaders of Hong Kong’s success in cycling
When Wong Kam-po won the gold medal for the men’s road race in the 2006 Asian Games, interest in cycling shot up. Then in 2012, Sarah Lee proved that Hong Kong’s women cyclists are just as talented. She brought home a bronze medal from the London Olympics after competing in the women’s keirin. It was Hong Kong’s first Olympic medal in cycling and also the city’s first Olympic bronze medal. No wonder people were so proud!
Watching track cycling in Hong Kong
After Wong Kam-po’s success in the Asian Games, the Hong Kong Government agreed to build a world-class velodrome in Tseung Kwan O. Now it’s unnecessary for local cyclists to go to mainland China to train. One more advantage for athletes and fans is that Hong Kong can host large track cycling events like the Track Cycling World Cup.
What is the keirin?
The keirin is a type of cycle race. Riders must first follow a motorbike (or pacer). At the start of the race, the pacer travels at about 25 km/h gradually increasing to 50 km/h. At 600–700 metres before the end, the pacer leaves the track and the contestants sprint to the finishing line. With finishing speeds of about 75 km/h, that’s faster than the speed limit on the East Kowloon Corridor!