From Usain Bolt to Mo Farah, all the best runners in the world have coaches who can push them. But what if that runner comes from a housing estate in Sham Shui Po and can't afford an expensive coach or training facilities?
That was exactly the situation Mak Chun-fung found himself in. The 16-year-old runner trained in the playground and ran in the streets without any professional coaching. But he wanted something that would push him to compete in competitions.
The answer came in the form of a free running programme - RUN Inspires - offered by InspiringHK Sports Foundation.
"Regular training helps improve my running skills and stamina. The training also gives me a good opportunity to learn from one of the top runners in Hong Kong - Chan Ka-ho," he said.
Chun-fung describes himself as a bird when he runs. "Running eases my stress. I feel like if I can fly when I run," he said. But as a very shy and passive student, he could have been a caged bird if he hadn't been prompted by his teacher at SKH Saint Mary's Church Mok Hing Yiu College to join the RUN Inspires programme.
Now every Tuesday from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, he takes part in training sessions at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground with his coach, Chan, and 21 other students. Chun-fung said he has learned so much from the training.
"RUN Inspires has boosted my confidence as well as my running skills. I'm motivated to give my best performance at every training session and in every competition because I want to express my gratitude to the organisers and my coach," said Chun-fung.
Chan has also noticed a change in Chun-fun. "When he first started, he didn't have much self-esteem. But now he's more proactive and determined to win. He always takes the lead and trains hard," said Chan.
RUN Inspires has even enabled Chun-fung to enter competitions by paying the entrance fee. Thanks to regular training sessions and coaching, Chun-fung won a silver medal and broke the 1,500m record with a time of 4:44.89 at the Sham Shui Po District Age Group Athletic Meet Competition (Division C) at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground on November 8. He also won a bronze in the 5,000m event.
Chung-fung might not have been as successful without the running programme.
"Local schools only have one or two PE lessons of two hours per week, so students have limited chances to play sports," said Judy Kong, Executive Director for InspiringHK. "Some families can't afford sports classes for their children, so it's really hard for them to try out, enjoy, or master a sport."
Founded in 2012, InspiringHK instils sportsmanship and charity in students. This year, Operation Santa Claus, co-organised by South China Morning Post and RTHK, will raise money to pay for 33 students to receive two years of fencing coaching from InspiringHK.
Here are some school activities that support Operation Santa Claus:
Shung Tak Catholic English College - December 4 and 11
The school held "Fancy Franks for Funds" on Friday, selling "Fancy Franks" gourmet hotdogs to students at lunch, with all proceeds going to Operation Santa Claus. They will also host a mini fun-fair and singing competition on December 11.
Korean International School - December 4
They held a Santa Fun Day with more than 30 games and activities. There was a reindeer relay race where students dressed up as reindeers and raced, and a Christmas version of pin the tail on the donkey, called Rudolph's nose.
American International School - December 11
The annual Red and Green Day, where students and teachers are encouraged to come to school in red and green clothes and donate a minimum of HK$20, will be held on December 11.
Kiangsu & Chekiang Primary School, International Section - December 14-18
The school is selling 2016 calendars designed by students, reusable bags and plates, with all proceeds going to charity.