Sarah Lee Wai-sze will return to Hong Kong this week weighed down by her failure to stand up and be counted at the World Championships, which concluded yesterday.
Hong Kong’s star
rider failed to make a serious dent on her rivals as she crashed out in the quarter-finals of the women’s sprint after losing to her Chinese rival, Lin Junhong, in what is becoming a worrisome trend. Lee eventually finished seventh in the sprint.
Lee also failed to reach the final of the keirin and coach Shen Jinkang will need to sit down with his protege and see where it all went wrong.
She would need to improve significantly from her displays at Lee Valley VeloPark in East London if she wants to mount a serious challenge for medals in Rio and add to the bronze she won in the keirin at the London Games four years ago.
“It won’t be easy but we can’t be too pessimistic,” said Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak.
“The sprinting events are decided by a split second and there are many unpredictable variables that can affect a race.
“It’s not really an encouraging performance in London. We know she can beat anybody on her day, and there are a few more months for the coaching staff to fix the problem.”
It was Lee’s third successive defeat by Lin in two months. She first lost to her rival in the World Cup series final in Hong Kong in January.
That was followed by a loss to the same opponent in the semi-finals of the Asian Championships in Japan last month.
The mainlanders, meanwhile, showed they will be a major force in the sprinting events in Rio with, Zhong Tianshi, reaching the last four of the sprint, and Zhong and her partner, Gong Jinjie, capturing a team sprint silver.
Lee won a silver medal in the 500-metre time trial in London, her first in three years at the championships, but the event is not part of the Olympic programme.