The Force Strikes Gold

CP congratulates World Police / Fire Games

Hong Kong Police Team enters stadium for opening ceremony of the seventh World Police / Fire Games in Calgary, Alberta
WHAT attracted 9,000 athletes from 45 countries to compete over a week in 67 sports for gold, silver and bronze medals before lavish opening and closing day ceremonies witnessed by cheering crowds that hovered around 40,000?

@If you said the Olympic Games, you're close.

@It was the 1997 Seventh World Police/Fire Games held in Calgary - and regarded by many as the second biggest sporting event outside the Summer Olympiad.

Last month, from 27 June to 4 July, Western District Commander Ian Tyzzer, the Juan Antonio Samaranch of the Hong Kong Police, along with co-and-assistant managers Superintendent Lynn Edwards and WSIP Angela Kwok of Sports & Recreation, and a 28-member team of the Force's best athletes hungry for gold flew into the city at the foothills of the Rockies and kicked some rival constabulary gluteus maximus to take home 39 medals in 28 events: 14 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze.


@"The opening ceremony was spectacular," recalls Mr Tyzzer. "There's a cultural show put on by each contingent's home country and all continents were represented. Carrying the flag into that was a very nice feeling. Everybody's happy, they've all welcoming you to Calgary, shouting Yahoo! The crowd was Yahooing! at us - and we were Yahooing! back. It was a tremendous atmosphere."

@Held every two years and featuring top athletes from the world's disciplined services, the last World Police/Fire Games took place in Melbourne, the next will be played out in Stockholm in 1999. And as evidenced by the heavy coverage in TV and local newspaper sports sections, the standard of competition in Calgary was extremely high. All the medals had to be won - none were given away.

@What makes these games different is that alongside all the traditional sports represented, they also include events that are strongly influenced by law enforcement activities such as a SWAT competition, Police Dog trials and "The Toughest Competitor Alive" competition.

@What made the Games different for the Force team this time was that they began the event as the Royal Hong Kong Police and ended it as the Hong Kong Police. As such, the HK contingent was saddled with a whole extra dimension as ambassadors not only of the Force but of Hong Kong, China. They did an excellent job.

@"Prior to the opening ceremony, we anticipated that there would be a lot of interest in the Hong Kong team because of the handover," recalls Mr Tyzzer." When we arrived at the Calgary Airport, the Canadian edition of Sing Tao newspaper was waiting for us. They wanted a story. The newspapers in Calgary also sought interviews with us, as well as the local TV stations. People were very interested in the handover.

@"We didn't think that the organisers would have the new HKSAR flag, so we brought two new flags with us. We were right. I gave the organisers the new flag - which was flown at the stadium on July 1. We used the old flag for the opening ceremony, and the HKSAR flag at the closing one. "

@As warm and friendly as the international competitors and Calgarians were, the only disappointing aspect of the Games for the Hong Kong Team was the ignorance of so many (especially the press) as to what was really happening in Hong Kong. The Calgary Police Department even discussed the possibility of members of the team seeking political asylum.

@"We had a liaison officer allocated to us from the Calgary Police who was extremely helpful throughout," remembers Mr Tyzzer. "At a convenient point after we arrived he actually asked us what 'officially' our position was - and was anybody likely to want to stay behind?"

@The Hong Kong team just looked at the guy in disbelief.

@"The press tried their best during our interviews to make the story sensationalist. We had to set the record straight many times," Mr Tyzzer added.

"A Calgary Police Officer
was extremely helpful throughout. At a convenient point after we arrived he actually asked us what 'officially' our position was - and was anybody likely to seek political asylum?"

He set the record extra straight (and proudly waved the flag) on July 4 - when, as team captain, he was invited by the City to carry the new HKSAR flag in the Calgary Stampede parade: "As I walked along the main street in the parade, I was waving the flag at the crowds and looking for Chinese residents of Calgary to whom I'd wave more vigorously. They'd see the flag and wave back. Everybody was shouting and have a great time."

@Speaking of having a great time, the Hong Kong Police Team, who stayed at University of Calgary residences, made use of its excellent sports facilities constructed for the Winter Olympics in 1988. "We sent athletes that had a good chance of doing well in their individual sports," said team co-manager, SP Edwards. "We weren't disappointed." The athletes were nominated by their individual police sports clubs whose chairmen had to justify the nominations to the Sports Council who then selected the team. Hong Kong sent 200 officers to the Melbourne Games in 1995, but with leave restrictions being enforced during the handover, the Force was not in the position to send a large team.

@As it stood, the Force team was lean and mean and pumped up for the medals that gleam.

@Nine sports were represented, and all but two of the sports the Hong Kong Police competed in won medals. And the two who didn't did very well in their own right given the high standard of competition. They were certainly not out-classed.

@"SIP Andy Gidley of Security Wing did not win a medal, but worked very hard," said Mr Tyzzer, who was extremely impressed by his commitment to the 10,000-metre men's senior. "He had an injured foot and had to undergo physiotherapy every day - but never gave up."

@Ace archer Tsang Chiu-kee didn't take home a medal but came sixth in an exceedingly tough field.

@The Hong Kong shooting team (Tsang Chi-ying, Man Kin-hung and Yau Man-tai) won two golds and a silver respectively - then as icing on the cake were singled out by the organisers for their professionalism as being the safest team at the ranges. Unlike an opponent who managed to lose his pistol during competition on a particularly rainy day. Officials used a metal detector to try and retrieve it in the mud, but because it was a plastic Glock, they couldn't find it. They were still looking for the sidearm after the Games ended.

@Despite poor time-keeping and bad scheduling, our badminton team (Kan Shiu-keung, Chan Chiu-nup, Tong Yee-man and Kan Shiu-keung whacked the little birdie over the net well enough to compile a nest of metal eggs: 1 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze. While tennis stars Lee Au Suk-yee, Lee Wing-cheung, Lok Chi-ming and Yue Wang-hong struck like lightening to bring back to the HKSAR one gold, three silvers and a bronze.

@In golf, Kwan Tin-po and Lau Kwong-hon came 14th in tough competition.

@Vincent Cheung Yuk-fung, Simon Chan Ping-kwan, James Cheng Chung-ming and Nelson To Yun-hung did well to win the team bronze medal in lawn bowls. The field was extremely tough, and the Hong Kongers had to play in unfamiliar conditions. Although the weather had been quite good, on the first day they played - it went down to 6 degrees C. "During the lawn bowls competition athletes were heating up their bottled drinking water and using the containers as hand-warmers," recalls Mr Tyzzer, an avid lawn bowler himself.

@Champ Eddie Ma Lung-sang took one silver and two gold medals in table tennis, while his partner in ping-pong, Lau Chun-fung, adds a gold and bronze prize to his trophy room.

@The amazing tenpin bowlers contributed a whopping 11 medals to the team's tally. The Chan Chi-keung, Yim Chi-shing, Kwong Lok-sang, Tam Wai-kit combo snatched four golds in the teams event; while individually they piled up another gold and some silver and bronze.

@Wong Wing-kuen finished a respectable sixth in a field of 12 superb Men's 10,000-metre runners; while hurdler Chung Kiu-man took silver in the 110-metre, and bronze in the 400-metre hurdle.

@One highlight among many came when Carol Cheng Mei-lin nearly broke the sound barrier to win gold medals in both the 5,000 and 10,000-metres.

@"That was the most memorable moment of the competition for me," recalls Angela Kwok. "We gave her a lot of support, cheering every time she came around the track. We hung the flag out and just screamed with happiness when she won. Seeing her so excited and enjoying the moment was great. Everybody was hugging everybody."

@Sponsorship costs for sending the team were mainly met by the Sports Council Trust Fund largely accrued from the proceeds of a fundraising raffle several years ago. In addition, private sponsors made a big difference to the success of the team. Air Canada was extremely helpful - and not just in providing an excellent travel package.

@On the way to the Games there was a delay in Hong Kong, so when the team arrived in Vancouver time was tight for the connecting flight to Calgary. Not only did Air Canada let the Hong Kong Police team off the craft first, they also held the connecting flight for 35 minutes.

@"On the way back, bad weather delayed the flight and we had only 15 minutes to make the Vancouver/Hong Kong aircraft," says Mr Tyzzer. "Air Canada looked after us very well. We got off the shuttle flight and were taken immediately to waiting buses, then across the tarmac and into the plane. They closed the door and took off - missing out Canadian Immigration altogether.

@As well, Puma provided track suits and travelling bags that were of excellent quality and looked very smart; while G2000 gave each competitor two polo shirts; and Kwun Kee Tailor sponsored a blazer and slacks or skirt for the team officials.

@The team also thanks Richard Williams of the Calgary Police Department, who was exceedingly helpful and committed to making things easy for them. While George Yeung, who works for the City of Calgary, helped the Hong Kong Police team members considerably.

This site is best viewed by 800x600 or higher screen resolution.
All Rights Reserved. Offbeat Copyright 1997