Editorial:The success of home-made athletes in Tokyo Olympics - 20210809 - 英文 - 每日明報 - 明報新聞網

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Editorial:The success of home-made athletes in Tokyo Olympics

【明報專訊】The Hong Kong team competing in the Tokyo Olympics have bagged some more medals, winning bronze medals in the women's table tennis team and karate kata events. That Hong Kong won a brace of medals within one day is cause for celebration. There was a time when Hong Kong's elite table tennis players all originated from mainland China. In the women's table tennis team event this year, the three players all are native Hong Kongers. What is particularly gratifying is that the many years spent on nurturing them have borne fruit, which has opened a new chapter in Hong Kong's sporting history and ushered in a new "Made in Hong Kong" era for the city's table tennis scene previously dominated by players originally from the mainland.

Following in the footsteps of Siobhan Haughey, the Hong Kong top swimmer, yesterday (August 5) even more female athletes stepped on the Olympic podium. They included the three Hong Kong table tennis players namely Doo Hoi-kem, Lee Ho-ching and Minnie Soo Wai-yam, and karateka Grace Lau Mo-sheung. So far in the Tokyo Olympics, the Hong Kong team have won five medals — one gold, two silver and two bronze. None of these medals has come easily. Each of them deserves the cheering of citizens.

Hong Kong female table tennis players had never won a medal in the Olympics previously. In yesterday's game, the Hong Kong team faced Germany, a better team thought to have a higher chance of winning the medal. The Hong Kong team lost the opening doubles contest, but they came back strongly and beat their worthy opponents 3–1 — the best result ever obtained by Hong Kong's women's table tennis team in the Olympics. The composure and brilliance of the players have left a strong impression on us. It was 17 years ago in Athens when Hong Kong table tennis players last won a medal in the Olympics, i.e. the silver won by Li Ching and Ko Lai-chak in the men's doubles. This year, the women's team coached by Li have won a bronze, which certainly carries extraordinary meaning. As for the development of table tennis in Hong Kong, this medal also marks an important milestone.

In the British colonial era, the nurturing of elite athletes was not regarded as important. Since the 1990s, the Hong Kong team competing in international tournaments such as table tennis and badminton had long heavily relied on elite athletes originating in mainland China who had gained Hong Kong citizenship. Table tennis has long been the forte of mainland China. Given the abundance of talent, it is extremely difficult to represent and make it into the national team. For some athletes, the chance of competing in the Olympics is actually higher if they represent other regions. Many countries or regions are also happy to invite them to their sides to build stronger teams. The German team in yesterday's bronze-medal game also had two players originally from China.

It goes without saying that if local elite athletes want to further enhance their standards, they must have more opportunities to receive world-class training. The successes of Siobhan Haughey and foil champion Cheung Ka-long have had everything to do with that. Hong Kong's geographical proximity to the mainland, which allows Hong Kong table tennis players to have training sessions on the mainland, interact with players there and receive guidance from legendary veterans in the national team, is also key to the Hong Kong team's success. It takes financial resources to recruit world-class coaches or arrange for athletes to receive training in regions of high sporting standards. If the government, businesses and the sports sector can work together, it is certain that Hong Kong's sporting standards will go further.

明報社評 2021.08.06:栽培「土炮」開花結果 女乒團奇兵創奇蹟

東京奧運港隊獎牌再有進帳,先後在乒乓女團及空手道個人項目摘銅,一天之內雙喜臨門,可喜可賀。曾幾何時,本港精英乒乓選手皆為「國援」。今次乒乓女團賽事,3名港隊代表皆為「土炮」,經過多年栽培,終於開花結果,寫下歷史一頁,見證本地乒壇由國援時代過渡到「本地製造」新時代,尤其令人欣慰。

繼港產女飛魚何詩蓓之後,昨天再有港隊女將登上奧運頒獎台,包括女乒3名代表杜凱琹、李皓晴及蘇慧音,以及空手道代表劉慕裳。東奧賽事至今,港隊共摘1金2銀2銅,每面獎牌都得來不易,值得市民歡呼喝彩。

香港女乒過去從未在奧運摘牌,今次銅牌戰對手德國隊,論實力在港隊之上,賽前被看高一線,最終港隊在先輸雙打賽事下,後來居上,以3:1擊敗強敵,創下歷來最佳奧運成績,眾將沉着應戰,表現出色,令人留下深刻印象。香港乒乓代表上次在奧運會摘牌,已是17年前的雅典奧運,男雙組合李靜與高禮澤奪得銀牌,今次李靜以教練身分帶領女子隊摘銅,固然別具意義;對於本港乒乓球運動發展而言,這面女團奧運獎牌,同樣是重要里程碑。

港英時代,精英體育發展不受重視,1990年代以來,港隊出戰乒乓球、羽毛球等國際賽事,有好一段時間非常依賴「國援」,即入籍香港的內地精英運動員。乒乓球長期是內地體育強項,人才濟濟,代表國家隊難若登天。對於部分運動員來說,若想踏足奧運舞台,代表其他隊伍參賽,機會反而更大;很多國家或地區為了提升「戰力」,亦樂於向他們招手,昨天銅牌戰,德國隊便有兩名來自中國的入籍選手。

當然,本港精英運動員要進一步提升實力,還須有更多機會接受世界級一流訓練,何詩蓓和花劍金牌得主張家朗的成功,與此不無關係;港乒近水樓台,有機會到內地集訓切磋,接受國家隊一代名將指導,同樣是成功關鍵。無論是重金禮聘世界級教練,還是讓運動員到高水平地區深造培訓,都需要財力。政府、商界與體育界如能齊心協力,香港運動水平,定可踏上更高台階。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

a brace of sth:two things of the same type, esp. two birds or animals that have been killed for food or sport

usher in:if one thing ushers in another thing, it indicates that the other thing is about to begin

proximity /prɒkˈsɪməti/

the state of being near sb/sth in distance or time

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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