Get set, ready, and . . . go!

Get set, ready, and . . . go!

Young Hong Kong athletes are eager to showcase their talents at the upcoming Universiade

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(From left) Au Sin-ying, Chan Kwong-kit, Samuel Li and Anthony Wong.
(From left) Au Sin-ying, Chan Kwong-kit, Samuel Li and Anthony Wong.
Photo: May Tse
Universiade is just around the corner. The multi-sports event for university students, which is held every two years, is scheduled for Shenzhen in August. This gives Hong Kong athletes a geographical advantage. Their friends and relatives can easily visit to watch them compete.

Young Post talked to four Hong Kong Universiade representatives about their targets at the Games. The four athletes come from as many universities in Hong Kong. They are all first-year students.

Sabre fencer Au Sin-ying, 19, is an Asian Games silver medallist.

"Before the Asian Games, not many Hong Kong people knew who I was," says the Hong Kong Baptist University student.

"But now even the mass media are focusing on me [as a medal hopeful]. I prefer to stay out of the spotlight."

Au is currently in New York to compete for qualifying points to the 2012 London Olympics.

"The Universiade is a huge event and many European athletes rank it as the third most important of all tournaments right after the Olympics and World Championships," she says. "For me, both the Universiade and qualifying for the Olympics are important."

Au will compete in women's sabre - both in individual and team events.

Hong Kong will also send three girls and three boys to compete in the seven table tennis events at the championship.

Samuel Li Chun-him, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Anthony Wong Shing-chung, from the University of Hong Kong, have trained together on the Hong Kong junior team. This time they will compete together in men's doubles.

Wong came first in the selection and thinks the Games will be a challenging tournament.

"On previous occasions China sent their national players to the Games," he notes. "Luckily we are having a summer break from school so we have more time to train. We have three practice sessions with the Universiade team every week and may have additional individual training during the rest of the week. This can help us to do better."

Li concedes that the training is harder than he expected. "As each of us needs to play in four events, including singles, doubles, mixed doubles and team, we need to sharpen our physical fitness to be able to cope with playing numerous matches a day," he says.

"The individual event features a best-of-seven-games match, while the team event has a best-of-five-games rule. Our focus will be on how to maintain our performance when we are required to play dozens of games a day."

Polytechnic University's (PolyU) volleyball team captain Chan "KK" Kwong-kit has also been selected to play for the city. The men's volleyball team mainly consists of players from PolyU and City University, the two teams that came first and second respectively in the inter-university volleyball competition.

Chan won the Most Valuable Player award at the inter-university competition. The award, he says, has boosted his confidence to become a key player on the team this time. "I will be wearing Hong Kong's regional flag on the front of my jersey, but I will also be playing for my university," he says.

"My school has been giving me support and I've just had a fruitful year."

On the side, Chan also coaches La Salle College's volleyball team, which has improved a lot this year. It snatched the runner-up trophy at the inter-school competition and the Jing Ying Tournament.

Yet Chan knows it won't be plain sailing at the Universiade. The Hong Kong team will be facing Brazil and South Korea, two powerhouses, during the group stage.

"We may not advance to a later stage of the competition," Chan says. "But we will do our best to win our matches."

The Universiade will be held from August 12-23

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