Tiffany planning to show some sparkle
Golf’s return to the Olympics has been hit by a host of withdrawals, but for Hong Kong amateur Tiffany Chan, reaching the Rio Games is a dream come true.
The 22-year-old booked her ticket by finishing 56th in the Olympic rankings, giving her the chance to compete against the leading lights of the women’s game.
“I myself am really honored to play in the Olympics as it is the highest stage any athlete can get to,” Chan said.
The university student is one of three amateurs to qualify for Rio, which will feature 60-strong men’s and women’s competitions as golf returns to the Games after a 112-year absence.
Top men’s players like Jordan Spieth and RoryMcIlroy have pulled out, with some citing concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika virus which can cause birth defects if it infects pregnant women.
But few of the female golfers have voiced such concerns, and Chan said dropping out never even crossed her mind.
“I have no plans to set up a family now so I am not too worried, and I think it’s a must to take part since I was given the chance,” she said.
Chan first encountered golf at the age of six when her father, a building contractor, took her to a public range in a suburb of densely populatedHong Kong.
Unlike many Asian families who spend big on their children’s golf careers, Chan said her parents had no ambitions for her to become a top player.
“It was more a family hang-out on weekends. We just paid HK$6 dollars (77 cents) per hour to play at a bay,” she said.
Later, Chan was scouted by officials of Hong Kong’s junior golfer development program, who sent her to compete in overseas youth events.
With limited access to the financial hub’s expensive golf clubs, she earned a scholarship to attend university in the United States, where she trains.
“When I was younger there was not much opportunity formeto practice on real ranges. This is my weakness so I need to work harder,” she said.
Chan will face the world’s best in Rio, including Lydia Ko from New Zealand and South Korea’s Park In-bee. She hopes to finish in the top 40, but said her main aim was just to learn from the professionals around her.
“There are 57 professionals, so to enter the Olympics as an amateur is already a difficult thing.
“I just want to learn through these Games,” she said.
After university, Chan is planning to turn professional and embark on a career which she hopes will promote the sport in Hong Kong.
“Notmany people play golf in Hong Kong ... but usually when there is an outstanding player the sport can get a big boost,” she said.
Hong Kong amateur Tiffany Chan will be competing against some of the world’s top professionals at the Rio Olympics.