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What an epic way to wrap up our city’s run at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics—with a bronze medal in women’s sprint from our home-grown cycling superstar Sarah Lee Wai-sze. Her win marks the second Olympic medal in Lee’s cycling career, Hong Kong’s sixth medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and the ninth medal overall.
Lee won her first bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics for women’s keirin, and since then, she has gone on to win three rainbow jerseys (one for the 500-metre time trial in 2013, and also for the sprint and keirin in 2019) at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships—the honour to wear one is only bestowed upon the reigning world champion in a cycling discipline.
Lee secured her bronze medal by consecutively winning the first two out of three races against 23-year-old world champion Emma Hinze, both by a large margin. All throughout the semi-finals and bronze medal bout, many have commented on Lee’s age in comparison to her relatively younger competitors. However, Lee was unfazed by the age difference; after all, her experience and superb athleticism have kept her at the top of her game.
When asked about her mental preparation for the women’s sprint after losing out on the women’s keirin, Lee compared her journey at the Olympics to a game of Monopoly—you cannot be sure if you will win or lose until you reach the very end. With this mentality, she was able to set aside her disappointment and continue onwards.
Lee has long been the face of Hong Kong’s spirit of undying perseverance—those who have kept up-to-date with her career know that her path to success did not come easily. Lee was born with anaemia and underwent three surgeries after a horrific accident in 2006 that nearly forced her into early retirement. At the last Olympic Games, Lee suffered a crash, which unfortunately took her out of the keirin semi-finals. In spite of all the disappointments and hardships that she has been through, Lee has always tried her very best in order to live a life of no regrets. Indeed, what an excellent motto to live by!
A brief look at Lee’s endless list of achievements shows dozens of medals, including many regional, national, and international ones, and her 17-year career has shown no signs of slowing down. While she has yet to confirm her plans to prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympics, her next competition will be at the National Games in Shaanxi this September.
All 46 of our Hong Kong Olympians have done their best to prepare for and compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with many of them breaking career records and bringing home shiny medals. After the closing ceremony just last night, it’s easy to forget that there’s more to these athletes’ careers than competing at the Olympics. On that note, it’s high time for us to extend our support for our athletes past the quadrennial Games and cheer them on, come rain or come shine.