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UPDATED: 14:42, June 25, 2004
HK's first and only Olympic gold medallist to enjoy Athens Games
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Hong Kong's only Olympic gold medalist said Wednesday before leaving for Europe to finalize the preparation that she would enjoy her fourth Olympic appearance in August.

"I would rather enjoy the (Olympic) games (in Athens in August) than to focus too much on competition itself", said Lee Lai-shan on the Stanley beach where her training base is located.

The 33-years-old windsurfer of Hong Kong, China, has put off many times her plan to become a mother during the last four years' preparation for the Athens Olympic Games.

"It is important for me to maintain in joyful and pleasant mood. I am not going to think too much about gold medal but concentrate on improving my weakness", said Lee Lai-shan, affectionately known here by the nickname "San San".

At the ISAF World Windsurfing Championships in Turkey last month, San San finished 6th, a result beyond her expectation. "The lesson I drew from the (World) Championships is that I am not good enough to handle strong wind", said San San.

Together with her coach Rene Appel, teammate Ho Chi-ho, San San will leave for Europe this weekend. Apart from gaining experiences from the forthcoming Holland Open and European Championships in Poland next month, San San plans to arrive in Athens as early as possible in a bid to get used to the current and wind over the competition water zone.

"It is a disadvantage that we don't have much strong wind in Hong Kong", said San San. "That is the reason why we should set up our training camp in Europe."

San San surprised the world at Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 when she won the women's windsurfing gold medal, Hong Kong's first, and the only one so far.

She finished 11th at her first Olympic appearance in 1992. Failing to match up the strong expectation from Hong Kong supporters to retain her title in Sydney in 2000, San San took the sixth place at the millennium Olympics.

"Lack of training", said San San, when she was asked why she did not achieve better result four years ago. "I have to finish my education in sports management before getting fully involved in training", said she.

She returned to full time training with no longer than 12 months before the start of the 2000 Olympic, that was too short, said her long time coach Rene Appel.

To keep San San and Ho Chi-ho from disturbs from media, the Windsurfing Association of Hong Kong made it clear that the two athletes would not accept any direct interviews from media until the end of the Athens Olympics.

Source: Xinhua


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