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Asia CommentTaipan

Finding hometown pride in unexpected corners

It’s funny how every four years we all become increasingly patriotic and turn experts in niche sports we would otherwise never watch.

I admit, I’m quite guilty of this myself. Ladies’ gymnastics, for example? I’m suddenly critiquing landings and yelling at the telly as much as I would during a game of football. Artistic swimming at the Olympics? Count me in too!

I am, of course, greatly invested in all things UK, and have been pleased to see a stellar start to the Olympics for my homeland. But I must say I was a bit surprised to get choked up when Cheung Ka-long won a gold medal for Hong Kong in fencing this week in Tokyo. The last, and only other, time anyone from Hong Kong won an Olympic gold medal was in 1996, when Lee Lai-shan dominated windsurfing.

When Lee won, Hong Kong was still part of the UK, and she stood as a victor with God Save the Queen playing in the background. At the time, her win was our win.

So I did not expect to care as much about a Hong Kong victory in 2021, but how wrong I was. Hong Kong has been my home for decades now, and the resilience of the city never ceases to amaze me.

If a fencing win wasn’t enough, Siobhan Haughey brought home a silver medal for Hong Kong in swimming as well.

Haughey had some strong support from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, where her mother works, as the office apparently hosted a party to watch her performance. Even HKMA chief executive Eddie Yue was reportedly on scene, cheering Haughey on.

Seeing Haughey accept her medal was truly spectacular as she — the daughter of an Irish father and a Hong Kong mother — is a stellar representation of Hong Kong as an international city, a status that has come under intense scrutiny in the past couple of years.

I know, I’m not normally one for emotional outbursts, but after the rough period Hong Kong has had, it’s nice to have something to celebrate. Drinks at Captain’s Bar are on me tonight!

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