How politics have shattered this girl's Olympic dreams

July 29, 2019

Photo credit:  


Each time Noel Vanessa Kwok hops on her bike, she incurs significant risk of serious bodily harm.


Hurtling down ramps at breakneck speeds and negotiating treacherous bends, the stakes are high with every ride.  


One miscalculation could spell blunt force trauma, fractured limbs and a lengthy hospital visit, but are a necessary evil for Kwok and other aspiring riders like herself.


As Hong Kong's first female BMX athlete, Kwok carries out practice sessions in the city’s sole BMX track complying with international standards.


To support her passion, the Kwok family are having to constantly delve into their savings to fund entry costs, miscellaneous expense and travel to tournaments across the world. 


Photo credit: Fitz 


In a male-dominated sport, the 18-year-old has nonetheless managed to carve out a thriving amateur career.


Kwok's overseas exploits have seen her amass enough Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) points to have been placed as high as 29th in the BMX Women Juniors rankings, in addition to placing 5th in Asia. 


Nor have her achievements gone unnoticed - Kwok's efforts came to fruition when she earned an invitation from the UCI for a Tokyo 2020 Olympics test run in October, with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity now ripe for the taking. 


However, her hopes have now been shot down. 


Photo credit: createHK 


Despite playing a pedestrian role in Kwok's development, the Cycling Association of Hong Kong (CAHK) have declined to rubber-stamp her participation for ostensibly spurious reasons.


According to Catalles Sin, her daughter has been deemed short of "Olympic standards" in the absence of any assessment or criteria, with the CAHK going further to declare that BMX is not a priority this year. 


Her predicament has sparked a swathe of online responses, expressing indignation at the CAHK's treatment towards the 18-year-old, as well as words of encouragement for the ambitious young biker. 


If this impasse persists, Hong Kong would not miss out on the unprecedented chance of being represented by an Olympic-level BMX rider, but also drive local athletes away to greener pastures in search of a brighter future.  


In light of the current political climate, this is something Hong Kong can ill-afford. 




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