Hong Kong cycling heroine, Sarah Lee Wai-sze, is used to whizzing around Hong Kong Velodrome at breakneck speed. But on Friday, she was reduced to an agonising crawl after she joined volunteers mopping up after torrential rain caused flooding inside the venue.
Rainwater had seeped into the venue and flooded the velodrome and the adjacent badminton courts after the city was dumped by heavy rain during Friday's "yellow" rainstorm.
But apparently, the flooding was mainly caused by a faulty fire alarm system that caused the rooftop to open - apparently to increase air circulation - allowing rainwater to dump its load on to the HK$1.13 billion Tseung Kwan O venue.
Double world track champion Lee was supposed to train on Friday morning but was aghast to see the venue in unusable condition. She said she had to "protect our Notre Dame" referring to the iconic cathedral that caught fire in Paris this week.
The 31-year-old Hong Kong ace took to Facebook to write about her experience, thinking at first the roof had been leaking before finding out that it was actually caused by a fire alarm. However, there were reports of five or six small leaks inside the venue before the roof was accidentally opened.
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"I have not been able to understand how the roof could be leaking when the venue was built six years ago. We needed to hold an umbrella inside the venue. As it turns out the fire alarm caused the 'sky window' to open," she posted on her Facebook page with a video of the wet venue.
When the predicament became apparent, Lee didn't mind rolling up her sleeves and getting down to some hard work - that is scrubbing the floors with volunteers to mop up the venue. The venue hosted previous UCI world track championships before - scene of many victories for the London Games bronze medallist - and last month it was the stage of the Six Day Series for the first time.
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As Hong Kong Velodrome has a special place in Lee's heart, she said the venue was sacred to her.
"The velodrome is our Notre Dame. I respect her, cherish her and if she has a problem, of course, I will help to repair her. I hope the venue will be back to normal soon. If it is properly care for, you don't have to spend a lot of money on repairs," she said.
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