A total of 48 contestants were disqualified for jumping the gun in Hong Kong’s cross-harbor race on Sunday, including the one who finished first in the women’s group.
It was the first time that contestants were disqualified in the competition’s five-year history, Ming Pao Daily reported on Monday.
On the other hand, many of the swimmers blamed the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association for the poor arrangements, saying the organizer failed to properly handle the record number of swimmers in the 1.5-kilometer event.
About 2,330 swimmers joined the race, over 400 more than last year.
The race began at 8:30 a.m. at the Sam Ka Tsuen Public Pier in Lei Yue Mun and ended at Quarry Bay Park Public Pier.
Fiona Chan On-yee, who finished first in the women’s event, said she started without hearing the starting gun because she saw other swimmers jump into the water, prompting her to follow suit.
Chan said the organizer should have restarted the race, just like in international events, instead of disqualifying contestants after they finished.
She said she would not file an appeal, as recommended by the organizer, as it would be useless, adding that she might not join next year’s event.
Chan’s coach said the one who fired the gun was quite far from the starting line, which is why many contestants did not hear it.
Association chairman Ronnie Wong Man-chiu said referees blew their whistles to stop those who jumped the gun but failed to stop them.
Swimmers complained that contestants from different groups started the race at the same time, but Wong explained that the arrangement was meant to avoid causing inconvenience to ships.
He promised to review the whole process so that next year’s event will run more smoothly. He said the decision on disqualifications will not be changed.
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