The sky's the limit for intrepid Hong Kong parachutists
September 14, 1997
Web posted at: 2:54 p.m. EDT (1854 GMT)
From Correspondent May Lee
HONG KONG (CNN) -- Top-class skydivers from 75 nations will
gather in Turkey this week for the World Air Games. For the
first time, there will also be a team from Hong Kong, the
former British colony that became a Special Administrative
Region (SAR) of China earlier this year. The Hong Kong
athletes hope that, with a bit of luck, a successful
performance at the games might boost skydiving back home.
The event will mark the first time a Hong Kong team has
participated in an international sporting event since the
But even though the team now officially competes under the
Chinese flag, the looks and names of the team members don't
exactly shout "China:" Yehoram Shenhar is from Israel, Peter
Carides hails from Zimbabwe and Paul Munder and Dana Magenau
The team admits their chances of winning in Turkey are slim.
But the enthusiastic skydivers point out that the mere idea
of competing against the world's best will be the ultimate
thrill. "It's an opportunity that at least I know I would
never have if I was living at home right now, so it's a great
opportunity," Munder told CNN.
Not only is the team an outsider, it also has had to battle
against the odds. The skydivers were effectively left
homeless when the airfield they used for their jump training
was taken over by China's People's Liberation Army after the
Hong Kong handover.
The team had to go somewhere else to get in the necessary
practice jumps. On weekends, they traveled to the
Philippines, but for more rigorous training the skydivers
traveled as far as the United States to hone their skills. In
sunny California, the crew recently trained for two weeks,
cramming in eight jumps a day.
World Champion skydiver John Hamilton, who coached the Hong
Kong team, praised the crew members for their personalities,
which he said combined determination with a good sense of
The Hong Kong team was hoping that, if reasonably successful,
its performance might help boost skydiving as a sport in
"If we can come either first or second among Asian nations,
it will send a message for sport parachuting in the region,
and then the calls for having drop zones in southern China,
or in Hong Kong, will be that much stronger. We know we are
not world class, but how are we going to get to be world
class if we don't have some grounding?" commented team member
And while the promotion of sport parachuting back home will
likely be more easily achieved by the Hong Kong team than
winning a gold medal, who knows? Going against the odds and
winning is nothing new in sports.