X-Speed Training and Racing Hong Kong – fast paced, eclectic and a culinary delight. Hong Kong is a tourist mecca situated on the southeast coast of China. It’s the home of cycle clothing manufacturer Champion System, world champion Sarah Lee Wai-sze and boasts a magnificent velodrome built in 2013 which has played host to a world cup and last year’s world track championships.
The velodrome is situated in the New Territories district of Tseung Kwan O and offers:
- coffee shop
- individual bike lock up cages
- free use of the venue owned Argon 18 track bikes
- two free track training sessions and one pay as you go session per week
The venue is a 5 minute walk from the local Hang Hau MTR tube station and this is how many of the juniors arrive for training, making their own way to and from the complex for the evening sessions.
The Hong Kong National Team still train on Mainland China, and like Perth, the venue remains under utilised. On my first visit to the track to watch an X Speed session, it was a surprise to see Sarah Lee in residence and pumping out some TS drills. Sarah, 31, has a long road in front of her to Tokyo in 2020 and may again carry the nations hopes of another Olympic medal in track sprinting.
However, echoing the sentiment we hear at home, president of the Chinese Cycling Association, Coach Shen laments the difficulty of junior development.
“Many western countries have a strong club system at grass-roots level and China has a school program, but Hong Kong relies heavily on the governing body.”
“We need to sit down and think about the future seriously or we will have no riders to take up the baton at senior level very soon,”
“The success of Sarah Lee Wai-sze and Wong Kam-po does not mean Hong Kong is a powerhouse in cycling. Indeed, it is also their success that has masked many development problems of the sport. Hong Kong cycling still has a long way to go before we can call ourselves a powerhouse.”
X Speed training and racing Hong Kong, under the guidance of Andrew Szteo, is the club developing local youth to provide the national team with their next crop of talent.
And it’s no easy job.
Culturally cycling is seen as a recreational activity more than a sport. With a population of nearly 8 million the road system isn’t exactly conducive to road training or racing. With a couple of favored training circuits used in the early morning, the remainder is all ergo work.
Roller sessions are held at the top of an old industrial building in Fo Tan. A small, shared room houses the club equipment and many of the bikes for ease of access.
Space comes at a premium here with local apartments the size of the ladies bathroom at the SpeedDome selling for more than $1 million dollars. Hong Kong may be a financial and trade world hub but with the discrepancy between real estate prices and the average wage, parents here value their child’s education over and above a future in sport.
Given the cultural dynamic and economy, the work done by X-Speed training and racing Hong Kong is incredible. Governments are lobbied, sponsors engaged, roads are closed for racing and events are organised. Maybe a larger scale international alliance is on the way with a Pro Conti team to further develop the sport.
Thank you for hosting me Andrew, Chris and Teresa. We look forward to X-Speed training and racing Hong Kong camps and events now in planning for the 2018-2019 seasons.