Youth Worlds Glory
The first demonstration of his talent came in Cape Town in 1998, where he placed seventh at the ISAF Youth Worlds, but it was to be the following year when he really hit the heights. At the 1999 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Kuopio, Finland he dominated in a fleet which included future windsurfing stars Joeri VAN DIJK (NED) and Piotr MYSZKA (POL).
Just a year after his Youth Worlds triumph HO, stepped up to the biggest stage of all, as he lined up for Hong Kong in the Mistral event at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Just 19 years old at the time, he came in 28th out of 36 competitors.
Over the course of his next Olympic campaign, HO became a more familiar face at the major ISAF Graded events. He received funding from the IOC's Olympic Solidarity Scholarship and left for Europe in April 2003. With the SARS outbreak following shortly after, HO was forced to stay in Europe for longer than he had planned, but put the time to good use, posting top five finishes at both SPA and Kiel and securing Olympic qualification for Hong Kong at the ISAF Worlds in Cadiz.
Come the Athens Olympic Games and HO was stronger, more mature and better prepared. After a disappointing start he improved through the second half of the regatta, ending with 9,7 scores to take 14th place overall. Building on his Athens success, HO enjoyed a fantastic year in 2005, recording podium finishes at Sail Melbourne and the Holland Regatta and winning the ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week. He finished the year as the world #1 sailor on the Mistral Rankings, holding the top spot in the final Ranking release before the switch to the RS:X.
Since the change to the new Olympic windsurfing equipment, HO has been satisfied with his performances so far, but feels his best is yet to come, 'I made good progress and I'm still learning how to use and tune the new Olympic equipment.'
He saved his best performance last year for the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, China, where he came in 12th in a fleet of 34 sailors. From China he went to Doha and returned to the Mistral board briefly for the Asian Games. He ended the year off in style, winning the silver medal behind Xinhao YAO (CHN).
The Year Ahead
Looking to the future, HO has one clear objective, 'To participate in the Olympic Games. I always been motivated and worked hard to reach a higher level of performance.' With that aim in mind he began the year well, having a great Medal Race to take third place overall at Sail Melbourne.
Next stop for HO is Europe and the upcoming Olympic Classes season, with Palma, Spain his first destination. Then follow the trio of ISAF Grade 1 regattas before Cascais, Portugal and the ISAF Sailing World Championships. There he will aim to secure Hong Kong their spot in Qingdao and take a massive step forwards towards his third appearance at the Olympic Games.
Twenty sailors have been selected for Olympic Solidarity scholarships for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Find out more at www.sailing.org/olympicsolidarity.