Hong Kong hosts international sporting events that attract many of the world’s best competitors; meanwhile, Hong Kong representative sports people have had some fine successes at the international level. Looking back at some of last year’s events confirms that 2012 was once again no exception.
For a population of just over seven million people, the territory can rightfully lay claim to some of the world’s most sought after sporting titles. While also having a thriving local competition across many sports disciplines, Hong Kong’s sports men and women performed admirably in 2012 at international events.
While the following list is by no means definitive or absolute, as can be seen, Hong Kong fares well in the world’s sporting scene and we will no doubt be hoping for, and expecting, bigger and better things for 2013.
HK successful internationally
For a relatively small densely populated “country” Hong Kong manages to compete well on the international stage and had a small representation of 42 competitors at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games as a nation independent of China.
At those games, Sarah Lee Wai Sze became the nation’s hero when she won a bronze medal in cycling’s women’s keirin event. Lee (25), who was the flag bearer in the opening ceremony, was Hong Kong’s sole medal winner placing us equal 79th out of 204 countries in the London Game’s rankings.
Hong Kong’s No.1 women’s squash player, Annie Au has continued to perform well on the professional circuit and has a solid world ranking. Currently ranked 8th, she was as high as 6th mid-2012 and, at 23 years of age, the left-hander continues to improve having been in the top 20 best players in the world for the last two years.
Although Au was knocked out of the 2012 Hong Kong Squash Open in the first round. She made it to the second round of the 2012 World Open in the Cayman Islands a fortnight later, where she was knocked out of the tournament by the eventual tournament winner Nicol David. With her best performance last year coming at the KL Open 2012 in Malaysia in March where she was runner-up in the Final to David, Au made it to at least the Quarter Finals in eight of the 15 tournaments that she entered in 2012.
Lawn bowls, Hockey and Rugby
Along with individuals Sarah Lee and Annie Au, Hong Kong was also well-represented by women in team sports on the international stage last year.
In lawn bowls the Women’s Fours team of Jessie So, Joanna Lam, Tammy Tham and Alice Lee won gold in the 2012 Asian Championship in Malaysia in April. It was the Hong Kong team’s first gold on the international stage in seven years.
In hockey the Women’s team fell just short in the thrilling Final of the Women’s AHF (Asia Hockey Federation) Cup in Singapore in December. Although Chinese-Taipei won their first senior title by defeating Hong Kong 2-1, both teams progressed to the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 2013.
In rugby the Men’s Hong Kong team were unable to defend 2011’s inaugural 4-nation Emirates Airline Cup of Nations XV Rugby Tournament title when they lost to Belgium in the Final of the 3-day tournament played last year on Dec 8, 11 and 14. Meanwhile the Hong Kong national side is set to tour Zimbabwe where they will play a Test match on April 16. Aiming to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, Hong Kong will use the match against the Zimbabwe Sables to prepare for the 2013 Asian Five Nations Championships beginning on Apr 27 back in Dubai.
In yachting Peninsular Signal 8 had good results in 2012 coming second overall in the IRC Class 1 of the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week in August.
Having started in 1826, and with races beginning off the coast of the small town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight, Cowes Week is held on the Solent—a straight with a very complex tidal pattern sheltered by the Isle of Wight and separating the island from mainland England.
Peninsular Signal 8’s success in the event is all the more impressive when considering that this is one of the most-prestigious and longest-running regular regattas in the world—and with its 40 daily races, up to 1,000 boats and 8,500 competitors, is the largest regatta of its kind.
In other yachting successes in international regattas, many boats from Hong Kong headed to Koh Samui, Thailand for the 10-Race 11th Samui Regatta.
HiFi, Freefire, and Mui Mui finished second, third and fourth respectively in the five-boat IRC-0 Class; Moonblue 2 came first in the three-boat IRC Premier Class; and EFG Mandrake, Foxy Lady 6, Electra and Sell Side Dream finished first, second, sixth and eighth respectively in the 10-boat IRC-1 Class.
Significantly, Genuine Risk—who is based in Hong Kong but sails under an Australian flag—took 10 line honours from 10 races to set a new Regatta record. The 90-foot Maxi, unable to compete with the 52-footers on handicap, came last in the IRC-0 Class due to its higher rating however.
International tournaments hosted by HK
The 2012 UBS Hong Kong Golf Open attracted World No.1 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who was aiming to defend his 2011 title but was unable to progress to the final group. Attracting top professional players on both the PGA and European Tours, the Hong Kong Open again included several other major tournament winners such as New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, American John Daly, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, Spain’s José María Olazábal and Korean Y.E. Yang.
Aside from McIlroy, eight other former winners of the Hong Kong Open also teed off: Grégory Bourdy, Simon Dyson, Harrington, Miguel Angel Jiménez, José Manuel Lara, Colin Montgomerie, Olazábal and Lin Wen-tang.
Other notable names in the line-up included 4-time US PGA Tour winner Matt Kuchar of America, who made his UBS Hong Kong debut, and in-form Englishman Paul Casey, whose last three appearances have yielded top 10 finishes in the Barclays Singapore Open (tied 10th), the BMW Masters (tied sixth) and the ISPS Handa Perth International (tied fifth).
But Nov 18, 2012, was Miguel Jimenez of Spain’s day at the Fanling course as he produced a blistering five birdies in the first 10 holes of the Final Round. The 48-year-old went on to win his third Hong Kong Open title and became the oldest-ever winner of a European Tour tournament.
The Hong Kong Squash Open 2012 featured no less than the world’s top eight men’s players and six of the top eight women’s players, including the undisputed best women’s player in the world Nicol David from Malaysia.
David successfully defended her 2011 title to make it a sixth consecutive Hong Kong Open title win.
Men’s World No.1 James Willstrop from England was unable to defend his 2011 title when he lost to Ramy Ashour of Egypt in the Final both on Dec 2.
As a guide to the high-standard of the Hong Kong Open, Ashour and David both went on to win the respective 2012 World Championship titles later in December. For Ashour, it was his second World Championship title; while for David, it was the “Duracell Bunny’s” seventh such title since she first won it at the 2005 World Championships in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong also hosted another international squash tournament, the 8th annual Crocodile Squash Challenge Cup 2012 from Aug 28 to Sept 2, with Australia’s Donna Urquhart winning the women’s title and Egypt’s Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry winning the men’s.
In rugby, Hong Kong again hosted the world’s biggest annual rugby party, the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens from March 23 to 25. With the action on the pitch as exciting as the carnival atmosphere in the stadium, Fiji defeated New Zealand 35-28 in the Final of the 37th Hong Kong Sevens at the Hong Kong Stadium as part of the 2011–12 IRB Sevens World Series.
Along with two Rugby World Cups Sevens titles hosted by Hong Kong, Fiji increased their Hong Kong winning record further. They have now won rugby’s “Jewell in the Crown” Hong Kong Sevens a record 11 times by winning the 2012 Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
The Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association broke new ground in the 27th Hong Kong International Bowls Classic Lawn Bowls Classic when all of the finals were broadcast locally by cable channel NowTV, with the vision and Cantonese commentary also transmitted around the world via the world wide web.
Australia’s Barrie Lester won the Men’s Singles title before partnering with his compatriot Matthew Baus—who he vanquished in the Singles Final—to win the Men’s Pairs title and a Classic double for Australia’s men.
Camilla Leung became the first local women to make the Women’s Singles Final in the Classic but lost to Sandy Hazell, who became the first English woman to win the title. Meanwhile, Wales’ Kelly Packwood and Judith Wason won the Women’s Pairs title.
Also in yachting, hosts the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary of the China Sea Race that started on April 4 from Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong. Ending 565 nautical miles away in the Philippine’s Subic Bay some, 100 klm from Manila, hitting light winds along the way the 26-strong fleet was slowed at times.
Australia’s Genuine Risk took line honours on April 7 in 62 hours, 23 minutes and 26 seconds. The Singapore registered Zanzibar finished strongly to cross the line in fifth place and to win the prestigious race on corrected time. Genuine Risk’s high rating meant that she finished 11th overall. While some yachts retired early, 21 finished the race before the official deadline for completing the race expired, with some taking more than 40 hours longer than Maxi Genuine Risk.
Finally, in the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes held in October South Africa defeated Pakistan in a thrilling Final. Improving each year the KARP Group Hong Kong Cricket Sixes is an annual tournament that began in 1992 (although the tournament wasn’t held from 1998 to 2000) with 2012 being the 18th occasion that the tournament has ran. Hong Kong came a very credible third out of the eight competing countries in last year’s tournament and will be hoping to go at least one step better this year.
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