Sarah Lee Wai-sze, former Hong Kong track cyclist, conquers heights in thrilling abseiling feat for charity

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Sarah Lee Wai-sze

27th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) Former Hong Kong professional track cyclist, Sarah Lee Wai-sze, faced a different kind of challenge yesterday (26th) as she participated in the “HK Vertical 1000” charity fundraising event at the towering One Island East in Hong Kong’s Eastern District. Instead of racing on a velodrome, Lee descended the exterior of the 36th floor of the building using ropes in a thrilling abseiling feat that took her just 10 minutes to complete. Initially apprehensive, Lee’s emotions shifted from fear to excitement as she soaked in the breathtaking view, describing the experience as akin to being an athlete.

A total of 31 participants took part in the event, and Lee, known as the leading figure in the cycling community, encountered someone who impressed her—the 80-year-old participant who went before her. She expressed her admiration, saying, “I hope I can be as brave as him when I reach 80.”

The “HK Vertical 1000” abseiling challenge was organised by the non-profit charity organisation Outward Bound Hong Kong, with support from Swire Properties, who provided the venue. Originally scheduled for the previous Friday (24th), the event was postponed due to unstable weather conditions and safety concerns. As a result, the starting point of the challenge was changed from the 68th floor to the 36th floor, where participants descended along the glass exterior of the building to raise funds for Outward Bound Hong Kong.

Lee, along with the other 30 participants, embarked on their abseiling adventure from the 36th floor of One Island East. She completed the descent in just 10 minutes. Initially feeling fearful, during the descent, her body rotated in mid-air, but as she gazed at the Hong Kong scenery, her fear subsided, and she became more exhilarated. She described her emotions as a mix of surprise and joy.

“At first, I thought I could descend slowly, but when I reached the middle, I was already suspended in mid-air and started to rotate. When I looked at the scenery, I thought it was beautiful, and I was captivated by it,” said Lee.

She praised the bravery of the 80-year-old participant who went before her and expressed her hope to be as courageous as him when she reaches the age of 80.

Describing the experience as reminiscent of her journey as an athlete, Lee said, “When I first became a full-time athlete, I was always nervous because I was worried about my performance. But in the middle of the competition, I started to enjoy it, and looking back on my past experiences moved me.”

In addition to Lee, the event attracted the participation of office tenants, including senior management figures such as Tim Blackburn, CEO of Swire Properties, Don Taylor, Director of Office Business at Swire Properties, and corporate representatives from AIA Hong Kong and Deacons law firm.

All participants were required to undergo a three-hour professional training course to learn the necessary skills for abseiling. The training was conducted by renowned mountaineering guide and Executive Director of Outward Bound Hong Kong, Iain Peter, along with his team.

Don Taylor stated that the event provided participating tenants with a memorable experience while also raising funds for charity. He emphasized the importance of promoting the spirit of resilience among the younger generation and equipping individuals to overcome life’s challenges. Gary Kwok, Executive Director of Outward Bound Hong Kong, explained that the organization has been providing outdoor experiential education to empower disadvantaged youth, helping them discover their potential and build a stronger Hong Kong.

The HK Vertical 1000 event at One Island East, organized by Outward Bound Hong Kong, offers participants a unique opportunity to abseil 1,000 feet down the building while raising funds for disadvantaged young people in the city. The event showcases the stunning cityscape of Hong Kong and provides an adrenaline-filled experience that participants will remember for a lifetime.