A Hong Kong celebrity marathon runner and coach has been accused of sexually assaulting several women in the runner community. As the holder of three Hong Kong long distance running records, the allegations against him made waves in the local sports scene.

Over the past week, two Facebook pages frequented by local runners published multiple anonymous allegations against Gi Ka Man, a 36-year old registered track and field coach. Gi apologised for – but did not directly address – the claims against him.

Photo: Gi Ka Man via Facebook.

A Facebook page called “Running for Freedom and Democracy” first made public allegations against the coach on Saturday, using only his surname “Gi,” a rare family name in Hong Kong.

In a post, the writer alleged that female runners reported that the coach had inappropriately touched them, and – in one case – bit a person’s nose. After his advances were repudiated, they wrote, the coach would claim the victim had no sense of humour, or would smear them in front of others.

Two days later, another Facebook page titled “Run the World” published five allegations against Gi, by four runners who were his running mates or students. The page alleged that between 2014 and 2018, Gi had – on multiple occasions – invited or coerced women to ride in his car, where he either bit their noses or groped their breasts without their consent. In one incident, the post claimed, a female student had to bang on the car window and cry for help before she could escape.

“How many people have to tear up their own wounds, for his blind supporters to see that Gi Ka Man is an asshole?” said one of the victims quoted in the post. “Gi Ka Man, do you want do surrender yourself, or should I report you? “

‘Deeply reflected’

The professional runner and coach has on Tuesday responded to the allegations through his personal Facebook page. “I have deeply reflected on my past behaviour in the past few days, and understand that I have done wrong, as I did not treat and deal with relationship issues seriously, causing hurt to the other person,” Gi wrote. “Perhaps please allow me to formally express my most sincere apologies to everyone I’ve hurt. Sorry.”

Several victims have reached out to local sexual assault support group Rain Lily, the Stand News reported.

The statement was poorly received, with some Facebook users commenting that he was insincere. Apple Daily reported that dozens of seemingly fake users with foreign names left identical supportive comments in the thread. Those comments have since been deleted.

The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association also released a statement on Tuesday, saying it was “extremely concerned by the incident,” held a “zero tolerance” attitude towards sexual harassment, and called on victims to report their experiences.

HKFP reached out to Gi for comment but did not receive a response.

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.