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Gold would be icing on cake for Sarah Lee

2016-08-02 10:15
Cycling at the Olympics (Getty Images)

Hong Kong - Hong Kong's cycling queen Sarah Lee broke the city's 16-year Olympic medal drought when she won a bronze in 2012 - and now has her sights set on Rio gold.

Lee's third place in the women's keirin in London brought home the first Olympic cycling medal and just the third Games medal in history for the southern Chinese city.

But Lee didn't stop there - she became the 500m time-trial world champion in 2013, and took two more golds in the keirin and individual sprint at the Asian Games in 2014.

But a nasty crash in March's World Championships gave cycling fans a scare after a Russian rider rode into Lee near the finish line during the first round.

But the 29-year-old, who trains in the mountains of China's Kunming province, has since recovered completely and is now in fine form entering Rio after winning a fourth gold medal at the International Track Series in Melbourne last month.

"Your mentality has to be strong and stable in order to beat all the other competitors," Lee told city broadcaster RTHK in March, adding that she had no illusions about the quality of her rivals in Rio both physically and mentally.

"Whoever wins or loses, it all depends on your tactics," she said.

Her coach believes that at 29 she now has the experience and expertise to improve on her bronze four years ago.

"With all the competitions that Sarah has competed in, she's gone through wind and rain and is very experienced, so her (performance) in the Olympics won't be affected" Shen Jinkang told RTHK earlier this year.

"I believe she will become stronger and stronger," he added.

Hong Kong has won only one gold, in windsurfing at Atlanta 1996, and one silver, in table tennis at Athens 2004, since first competing at the Games in 1952.

Lee had a humble upbringing in one of the city's public housing estates.

Despite suffering from anaemia, which causes her to tire easily, she was selected for her school athletics team and started cycling training while at high school. She became a full-time athlete in 2004.

But a road accident in 2006 nearly sidelined her cycling career following a bad fall when after she swerved her bike to avoid hitting a stray dog.

The accident resulted in multiple surgeries on a broken left hand, but Lee powered through her recovery winning Asian Games gold in the 500m time trial in 2010 and bronze in the sprint.

After adding two more Asian Games golds in the 2014 individual sprint and keirin, she declared that she was ready for glory in Rio.

"I hope I can do better in the Olympics in 2016 - I think I can achieve medals," she said.

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