- The 20-year-old says 'he is not picked out of a crowd' when travelling during the coronavirus crisis, adding it is harder for 'those who look Chinese'
- Hong Kong's top male triathlete is in the driving seat for a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after his second place in the Chennai Asian Cup
Hong Kong's Oscar Coggins is in prime position to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after a second place at the Chennai NTT ASTC Triathlon Asian Cup, after which he told Indian media that his "western" features makes travelling amid the coronavirus crisis easier than his Chinese friends.
Coggins finished behind Serbia's Ognjen Stojanovic, strengthening his position as the leading candidate to qualify for the Olympics from Asia. Kazakhstan's Ayan Beisenbayev, the only athlete who can catch Coggins, did not compete in Chennai, putting the Hong Kong athlete in the driving seat for a place in Tokyo.
The 20-year-old Coggins, the son of English parents and who holds a Hong Kong passport, was asked by Indian media how convenient it was for a Hongkonger to travel given the restrictions on people coming from coronavirus hotspots.
He responded: "I would say I have an advantage since I look very western … when you show the Hong Kong passport, they ask, like, where you've been, if you've visited China, and all that. The way I look definitely helps, though. I would say some of the treatment of people who look Chinese has been quite unjustified."
RT worldtriathlon: RT MarisolCasado: Busy weekend of #triathlon around the world, with a Panamerican Cup in Habana and an Asian Cup in Chennai. Great to see the Continental Confederations offering athletes incredible events to gain valuable points for th… pic.twitter.com/Ef5AGZrTWX
" Olympic Triathlon 2020 (@olympictri2020) February 23, 2020
Speaking to the Post, Coggins added: "It's more like I don't get picked out of a crowd. It's like discrimination and it's unfortunate for a lot of other people. It's once they see my Hong Kong passport that they start asking questions like if I've been to (conoravirus epicentre) Wuhan or the last time I was in Hong Kong.
"If you look Chinese and are travelling, people are wary of you, according to friends of mine. The way I look (as a Westerner), I don't get that and it's unfortunate."
Coggins, who is ranked 60th in the world, is training out of Phuket, Thailand, which means he avoids the restrictions some countries have put on travellers departing China, including Hong Kong.
The former Canadian International School student is focused on earning the only Olympic slot from the Asian qualifying series. He needs to beat Beisenbayev at the Asian Championships near Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of April but may also try to seal his place before that.
"At this point, I have pretty strong scores so every single race I had to nail to improve my points, so a second place in India (on Sunday) was a really good result for me," said Coggins.
Hong Kong's Oscar Coggins wins Asian Triathlon Championship and looks to book Olympic spot
"Beisenbayev is well behind now and needs to get good results to put the pressure on me. He has to really run every race " he is doing four in a row " and throw everything at the wall, which is not really ideal.
"I can pick and choose my races, so I'm really happy with that. The Asian Championships is a pretty key race for us. We don't know yet whether to do races before that and relax for the Asian Champs or really try to nail the Asian Champs."
Coggins said if he can beat Beisenbayev at the Asian Championships, it is pretty much game over as far as the race to the Olympics is concerned.
"The qualifying period ends on May 10, so if I get a good result in Japan there's really no time for anyone to catch up. So we'll see how it goes," he said.
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