Monday, November 30, 2015   

Perfect model for our can-do spirit

Mary Ma

Monday, August 06, 2012

Cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze is Hong Kong's pride and joy. There's no doubt.

On Friday, she finished third in the women's keirin final track cycling event after a terrific sprint to win Hong Kong's first medal at the London Olympics.

Lee's bronze was Hong Kong's third medal ever in Olympic competition. Windsurfer Lee Lai-shan won a gold medal in Atlanta in 1996, while Li Ching and Ko Lai-chak took the silver in men's table tennis doubles in Athens in 2004.

In last week's drama at the Velodrome in London's Olympic Park, Sarah Lee didn't secure an outright place in the semi-final with her ride in the first qualifying round, and had to go through a second round to get through.


Having finished third in the semi- final, the 25-year-old cyclist sprinted against five top cyclists in the final. In the end, she made it, capturing Hong Kong's first Olympic medal in cycling.

It's an amazing achievement as well as a stringent test of Lee's will and endurance.

Clearly, Lee and her teammates have done their part. The government should do its part too by supporting sports development. Many people would agree the government can do better in this area.

What's evident in Lee's journey from a modest Ngau Tau Kok estate to the heights of an Olympic stage is the underlying "can-do" spirit that typifies Hong Kong.

The old saying goes that where there is no pain, there would be no gain. The greater the effort one makes, the greater the chance he or she stands to gain more.

While that's what people are trained to respect, there seems to be growing doubt about this long-standing wisdom, as more people opt for shortcuts to success.

Lee may be born with a body frame suitable for sports requiring a burst of power. But she has anemia, which caused her to faint after running across the finish line during school sports days.

She had also been in danger of bowing out of cycling after a serious accident during training. But she refused to give up.

In the event, she and the other finalists followed a motorized pacer for 5 laps and, after the pacer left, they went all out in the remaining 2 laps in the race for honors.

Lee was languishing in fourth - the position some say is the loneliest place in the Olympics - until the final lap, when she found a second wind to finally beat one of those ahead of her.

It's all about perseverance.

In a situation like Lee's, there is clear inspiration to be passes on to the younger ones in Hong Kong - what one feels to be physical and psychological limits can be conquered as long as one aims for new heights in life?

Lee, with her big grin and passion for the sport, is a perfect model for inspiring young people to strive to become stronger, go faster, and climb higher.

"I was feeling very confident, and I believed I could have a medal," she said. "I think everyone had a chance to win, and today I did my best."

Inspiring words indeed.

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