WAN Kwok Leung

Hong Kong China dominated the lightweight categories, winning the lightweight men’s and women’s 2000m event in both senior and under-23 age groups.  For the Hong Kong team, one of the most highly-anticipated races was the lightweight men’s under-23 2000m in which Chan Chi Fung took gold and recorded the fastest time for lightweights overall of 6:22.0. Fung has set a number of World Records on Concept2 sliders over the past few months.

“Due to the impact of the pandemic, all races have been suspended. The virtual competition offered the platform for rowers to compete with each other around the world,” said Fung. “Since 2018, I have been very eager to participate in indoor rowing competitions at the international level, however, sometimes it was not possible due to the clash between outdoor training and competitions.  This year, the World Rowing Indoor Championships changed into virtual format because of the pandemic and, most importantly, the Asian Qualifier was hosted by Hong Kong. I am honored to take part in it.”

Athletes were unsure what to expect with the virtual format, but several said that it helped motivate them to keep training.

Gold medallist in the lightweight women’s under-23 2000m race, Winne Hung Wing Yan said: “The virtual competition was more exciting and tense than I expected. I could feel the momentum of the opponents through the screen. It was a great honor to have an atmosphere of live racing even under the pandemic.”

The open races were won by competitors outside of Hong Kong with the open men’s 2000m race being won by Japanese rower Tatsuya Sakurama in a time of 6:14:3. Saudi Arabia’s large entry finished with success in the women’s open 2000m category when Kariman Abuljadayel won with a time of 7:37.2.

“Overall we are very pleased,” said World Rowing Development Consultant and Event Technical Advisor Chris Perry. “We had a diverse range of languages, race categories and time zones and we’re really happy that the vast majority of races went smoothly.”

“This event brought people together when we couldn’t be face-to-face,” Perry added.

The event also offered masters and para rowing categories as well as 500m distances. In Hong Kong, several ambulance workers took part. Kwan Chak Choi, an ambulance worker for the Hong Kong Fire Department, finished second in the lightweight men’s 500m race.

“I felt nervous and excited on the race day,” said Choi. “Because of the pandemic, I did not participate in any competitions for a year and that’s the reason why I was nervous, but it also helped me find the long-forgotten excitement in the competition. Although my result was not the best, the competition motivated me to train more and get prepared for the final.

“This is my first time to participate in a live virtual competition,” added Choi. “The feeling is different with that of other indoor rowing competitions I competed in before. I could not see the opponents and the atmosphere could not be compared to the real one. However, this competition allowed me to compete with rowers from all over Asia and even worldwide now, I think this is a very precious experience, especially under the current pandemic situation.”

For full results from the event, click here: http://www.rowing.org.hk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Official-Results.pdf

For more information, click here.

Qualification for the World Rowing Indoor Championships will continue with the Americas Qualifier from 6-7 February. There is also currently an open qualification round. For more information, click here.