XI'AN, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Sitting in the audience, Pun Weng Kun, deputy head of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) sports delegation, held his breath. Although the Macao runner failed to enter the men's 800m final at China's 14th National Games on Tuesday, Pun was still proud of him and warmly applauded.
"He just set his personal best. No matter what the result is, he has done a great job. Many of our athletes are non-professional, but they are full of energy and spirit, showing the audience who they are," said Pun.
This is the sixth time that Macao has participated in the quadrennial multi-sport event, having first done so in 2001. Among the 152-member delegation, its largest ever, a total of 102 athletes are competing in 17 sports, and one of them has brought Macao its first ever National Games medal.
A week ago, when the Macao delegation paraded into the Games' opening ceremony, they were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and hospitality on display. "The audience's support made us feel at home, it was a very good start for the whole delegation," said Pun.
Three days after the opening ceremony, karateka Kuok Kin Hang, a gold medalist at the 2013 East Asian Games, beat Song Zhengwang from Zhejiang Province to claim the bronze in the men's kata (routine) event. That was the first time that a Macao athlete has stepped on the National Games podium.
"I'm glad to take this honor. It's a special moment for Macao sports. It means that Macao athletes can do something on this big stage," said Kuok afterwards.
"This medal really means a lot to us in Macao, it gives all athletes confidence during the competition and encourages Macao residents to participate in sports," Pun said.
The bronze medal made Pun too excited to sleep. In recent days, he has been busy rushing between the many venues of the National Games, not only to encourage the athletes, but also to gain experience.
As president of the Sports Bureau of Macao SAR government and a former amateur footballer, Pun is happy to see that training and race conditions for athletes are getting better.
"We encourage and support our athletes to go to different cities for training and competition. This is helpful for them to improve their performances," Pun said.
In 2025, the 15th National Games will be jointly hosted by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.
"We hope to learn a lot from these National Games. In the following years, we will continue to strengthen communication, hoping to make good use of the National Games to promote the development of sports, culture, tourism, catering and other industries. We're looking forward to it," said Pun.