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The pride of Barton Lui – making history for Hong Kong

10 Feb 2014
Sochi, Russia: Barton Lui Pan To made history at the Iceberg Skating Palace in the Sochi Olympic Park on Monday as the first male athlete to represent Hong Kong in the Winter Olympics. The 20-year-old short track skater finished fifth of six in the second heat of the men’s 1500 metres when only the top three qualified for the next stage.

Despite the brevity of his first appearance in the Winter Olympics, Lui knows the experience and the memories will last a lifetime.

“This is the first time I came here, to the Winter Olympics, representing my hometown Hong Kong,” he said.

“I am so touched and honoured and so excited to be competing in front of thousands of people in the crowd, and my friends sitting in front of the TV. They did not really care what my result is or whether I am going to get a gold medal because I am here already. I thank my family and friends and everyone who cares about me and who loves me.

“I will treasure this moment and remember it for the rest of my life, and share it with my friends and hopefully my kids.”

Liu started skating for fun in Hong Kong aged 10 and watched the 2010 Winter Olympics while he was studying and training in the host city Vancouver. This stirred his Olympic Games ambition, and since then his parents have largely financed his training in China, with the provincial team in Harbin, and in Korea.

“I have been travelling everywhere non-stop because I love short track, nothing else. The Winter Olympics is not something that everyone can go to. For four years, every athlete in every country and every skater is fighting for this and surviving all those races and training just to be here.”

Lui, who returns to Hong Kong on Tuesday for a short break before heading for Korea to train for the world championships, hopes his efforts will increase the profile of winter sports in Hong Kong and lead the authorities to build a standard ice rink to attract more youngsters to serious training.
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