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Hong Kong welcomes Olympic champions

By Ming Yeungand Fan Feifei  (China Daily)

09:52, August 25, 2012

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (third from the right in the front row) gives a warm welcome to a delegation of Chinese Olympic gold medalists in Hong Kong on Aug 24. [Photo/Hong Kong China News Agency]

A 70-strong delegation of Chinese athletes, including Olympic gold-medal winners from London, got a warm welcome from the people of Hong Kong on Friday.

The Olympians are in Hong Kong on a three-day visit to demonstrate their sports, talk to kids, encourage local athletes, and take part in a variety show.

Led by the president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Liu Peng, the group was greeted at Hong Kong International Airport by about 200 flag-waving students.

The stars include Lin Dan, the two-time Olympic champion in badminton; Sun Yang, the first Chinese man ever to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming; and Wu Minxia, who won the 3-meter springboard gold medal.

Meeting the media at the Harbour Grand Kowloon, where the delegation is staying, Liu thanked the Hong Kong people for their continuous support of sports development on the mainland.

He praised the 396 Chinese athletes who competed at the Games, in which they set six records. He said they did their best and displayed the best of the Olympic spirit.

"Throughout the three-day visit, here in Hong Kong, the delegation of 55 gold medalists and their coaches would like to take this opportunity to communicate with Hong Kong people and to show our gratitude," Liu said.

At the media briefing, Sun dismissed rumors that he had more overseas training opportunities than his teammates, at a cost up to 1 million yuan ($157,000) in the last two years.

"Such allegations are groundless and untrue. We all had equal chances to go overseas for training, not just me," Sun said.

When asked about life after Olympic glory, Wu said she is not worried. She can get support from the retirement fund for elite athletes.

"The halo will not be around me forever. I think after our retirement, we should enhance ourselves. If we are strong, we will walk through our lives just as well as others," she said.

Lin denied he will soon retire, saying he will take a vacation and get back to training after the break.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying spoke at a welcome reception at the hotel, extending a warm welcome, on behalf of the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Hong Kong citizens. He also extended his own congratulations to the national athletes for the results they achieved.

"Behind every medal are the endeavors of the athletes and their hard training over many years," he said, adding the spirit and perseverance of the athletes are admired by all Hong Kong residents, and the visit will give people a better understanding of these athletes.

A handful of teenagers waited outside the hotel in the sweltering heat hoping to give their favorite athletes the small gifts and cards they had made.

Among them was 15-year-old Wing, who had brought a postcard to Sun Yang. She said she had gone to the airport in the morning but failed to see Sun.

She said Sun is a hero to her because he accomplished a feat that seemed impossible to Chinese, if not all Asians - winning the gold medal in swimming.

The delegation will leave Hong Kong to visit Macao on Saturday.

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