On Monday I woke to a flurry of messages from Hong Kong I was not expecting. And for once the news from home wasn’t bad.
The news was, of course, that Hong Kong fencer Cheung Ka Long had won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. People seemed genuinely thrilled.
Cheung is only the second Hong Kong athlete to win an Olympic gold, after the windsurfer Lee Lai Shan in 1996. I remember back then how the city celebrated the achievement of “San San”, the girl from Cheung chau. She was a very local hero in uncertain times, and for a city defined too often by other people’s nationalism. I am sure the quiet and unassuming Cheung will be the same.
Monday was also a good day for my adopted country. Britain’s Olympic athletes won five medals, including three gold medals. I remember back in 1996 the British Olympic team managed only 15 medals, and only one gold. For many of my friends it was merely yet another sign of Britain’s decline. 1996 proved instead to be a low point from which the British team would recover.
At the last Olympics, in Rio in 2016, Britain won 67 medals, with 27 golds, to come second in the medals table behind the USA. Medals are not as rare as they once were.（註 1）
Perhaps this is why the reaction in Britain to the success of their Olympic athletes is more muted. In our village there was no fanfare. No one seems to have made time in their daily lives to watch British medal hopes compete on the world stage. Walking the dog and trimming the hedges take precedent.（註 2）
It could not be more different in Hong Kong. People who had previously shown no interest in sports left me celebratory messages and sent me videos. I watched clips of people gathered around the city, in shopping malls, bars and private homes, erupt in joy as Cheung won.
I also saw how conflicted many people were as the Chinese national anthem was played. Some people, in some locations, even booed. Whilst this is not surprising, it is sad to see.
Hong Kong has had so little to celebrate recently. It is a city wracked by hate and torn by division. Cheung, through the innocent pursuits that is sport, gave Hong Kongers something to celebrate and something to unite behind. Why could others in Hong Kong, those with power and the authority to shape the kind of society we are, do this? Why must our official anthem represent division? Harmony does not come from turning people on each other, nor through oppression.（註 3）
I do not fence. I had never watched fencing in my life. I do not know how his win ranks as a sporting performance, nor can I truly appreciate what he has achieved in his sport. I doubt many people in Hong Kong can.（註 4）
And yet Cheung’s win made me smile. His success reminds us of the power of sport, and the spirit in which the Olympic Games are meant to represent. It brought people together. For this I am grateful.
The Olympics should not be a setting for countries to complain about maps, or that others countries are partaking in the games. It is not the place for officials to politicise sport by issuing complaints about “ugly” photographs of their athletes being carried in the global press. It is not a place to tell others competitors that they are not independent nor to deny the legitimacy of the government they have elected. Hubris is not a sign of strength, but of arrogance.
As I watched people watching the awards ceremony, and the Hong Kong flag being raised, my video was on mute. I did neither applaud nor booed the anthem and the flag. What I celebrated was the achievement of someone who grew up in my city, who was shaped by the same society and with whom I share an experience of home. It had nothing to do with ethnicity — if it were, I would relate instead to Britain’s silver-medal winning triathlete Alex Yee, who is like me Eurasian. But I am not from London. I am from Hong Kong. And what mattered to me was to see Hong Kong celebrate.（註 5）
奧運女子 100 米和 200 米自由泳雙銀牌得主何詩蓓是香港及愛爾蘭混血兒，選擇代表香港出賽，贏得香港人心。
作者遷居英國，看見當地國家隊雖有奪得奧運金牌，民間卻無亢奮情緒，因為多年以來，獎牌數目均如潮水起落。電影「烈火戰車」（Chariots of Fire）記載，第二次世界大戰之前，英國國勢鼎盛一時，民間已經渡過了「金牌亢奮發育期」，心智早已成熟。
- 1996 年英國隊只奪得 1 面金牌，總數 15 面；2016 年則有 27 面金牌，總數 67 面。今年多少沒有關係，英國人不需要金牌數目來為國家「增光」。500 年來，英國已有牛頓、瓦特（James Watt）、霍金，還有遠東熟知的馬禮遜（Robert Morrison）、戈登將軍（Charles George Gordon）及李提摩太（Timothy Richard），不需再多的英國運動員在日本「揚威海外」，也不需再「增光」了。
- 「我不會劍擊」、「我不會說法語」，地道的英語不說「不會」（I can’t）或「不懂」，而是說「我不」（I don’t）。