13 December 2018

Why this HK-Irish teen already has her sights on Tokyo Olympics

With a mixed heritage, Siobhan Bernadette Haughey could have represented Ireland at the Rio Olympics.

Instead, the 18-year-old collegiate swimmer is carrying the Hong Kong colors and proud of it.

On Monday, she did Hongkongers proud by being the first local swimmer to qualify for an Olympic semi-final where she finished sixth in her heat in the 200-meter freestyle and 13th overall, Apple Daily reports.

That means at that instant, Haughey was among the world’s top 13 swimmers.

Not a bad result to show for all her efforts in the past year.

Haughey, 18, threw herself into a full-time Olympic training regime while keeping pace with her studies at the University of Michigan in the US.

Born to an Irish father and a Hong Kong mother, Haughey had to decide which team to represent in Rio.

She chose Hong Kong because it is where she was born.

Haughey is a typical Hong Kong teen who is into typical Hong Kong things.

For instance, in the past year she has been away at college, she has been craving gai dan zai (egg waffles) and Hong Kong-style waffles with peanut butter and condensed milk.

And she has been missing her Hong Kong friends.

Haughey qualified for the Rio Games three years after winning gold in the 100-meter freestyle and bronze in the 50-meter freestyle at the World Junior Championships in Dubai.

Haughey said she could go faster than her 1:56.91 in the 100-meter freestyle on Monday and hopes to build on it to get to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.    

Hong Kong swimming officials are reportedly considering some changes that might put her in the 400-meter medley relay, even though she was not on the team that qualified for the event during the eliminations in May.

If she doesn’t make it, she would be happy to stay on the sidelines and cheer them on.

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