A sporting attitude

A sporting attitude

Champion swimmer says sports success made him unafraid of failure

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Singer/actor Alex Fong defines success as being able to do something that you are passionate about.
Singer/actor Alex Fong defines success as being able to do something that you are passionate about.
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP
Alex Fong Lik-sun won the SCMP Student Sportsperson of the Year in 1998. Then he was a Form Six student at St Joseph's College. The talented swimmer went on to represent Hong Kong at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, where he set Hong Kong records in the 200 metres backstroke and the 400m individual medley - records that still exist.

Deciding to join the entertainment business after the Olympics was a life-changing moment. He became a singer and actor, and something of a heart-throb. Now 33, he has recently been making TV dramas and movies on the mainland.

What did winning the SCMP award mean to you?

It was a prestigious award and one of the most important in my life. The SCMP is reputable and is read by so many students in Hong Kong. To be featured in it as a winner was just mind-boggling. I used to love reading Young Post and had written a column for it, too. I'm happy to be a judge for this year's Best Sportsperson.

What is it like being in the entertainment business? Have you regretted changing course?

In the first three years, it was very tough because I was studying at the University of Hong Kong at the same time. I had to attend my business classes and go to work afterwards. I had no time to play or join any hall activities like other students. Also, showbiz was a completely new environment for me. Unlike swimming, in which I had already established a certain level of success, I had no prior training in acting or singing, which meant I had to learn everything from scratch and often on the spot. It was a big adjustment with a lot of pressure. Honestly, it took me five years to be totally comfortable in the field. But now I love it and enjoy my work every day. So I know I've made the right choice. All my previous training in sports has been useful for my career; it has made me determined and not afraid to fail. That's why I think everyone should play a sport; it's good for building character.

How do you define success? Do you think you are successful?

While the definition is different for different people, I define success as being able to do something I am passionate about. So, yes, I think I'm successful.

If there is one person to thank, who would that be?

My mum. She is great. She has taken care of me and my younger brother all these years, making sure we're OK and well-fed, which is important, as we love to eat.

She also insisted that I finish university while having a career in the showbiz. Now I've done that, I'll always have my degree and knowledge for life, and I thank my mum for that.

What qualities are you looking for in this year's Best Sportsperson?

It's not about your results in competitions but how you get there and how passionate you are about sports. You need to set an example for others, too.

I want to hear your story about the process, including your training, your attitude and life goal.

What advice would you give young people today?

That you can do anything. You will need time to find out what you really want to do, and then be bold and give it a try. You are young, so time is on your side.

There will be challenges, and you will face many criticisms. But if you put in the effort, maintain a positive attitude, and learn to take responsibility for your choices, you will succeed. I believe everyone has good opportunities in life. Making something out of those opportunities is not about luck but whether you're ready when your chance arrives.


You might also like:

- Alvin Wong, a former SCMP Student Musician of the Year, tells Mabel Sieh how he expresses himself best through music

- Since winning the Student of the Year award, Jolie Chow has balanced her career with hobbies

- Whether it's deciding to move to Hong Kong from Canada, or joining the local showbiz, Canto-pop singer Jason Chan goes by one motto - "make no plans"

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