Winning the Student of the Year - Sportsperson award takes zeal, commitment and sportsmanship. But the final judging comes when the students are called upon to demonstrate their success and dedication to their chosen sport. But it's their abilities to articulate their own success stories and overcome the interview pressure that make them stand out from other finalists.
The award is given to students who excel in their chosen sports and have won notable local and international prizes. Each candidate also needs to show a positive attitude. But how do the judges choose just one winner?
Category judge Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, who is also vice-chairman of the Committee of Youth Activities in Hong Kong and vice-president of Fok Ying Tung Group, said the eight-minute interviews at the final judging were a key to letting each student express their passion for and commitment to their chosen sport.
"We are not going to choose a Student of the Year winner who has splendid achievements in their local and international tournaments. We are here to choose a well-rounded spokesperson for their sport, community and society. The winners should be someone who can promote their chosen sport and inspire others," he says.
Fok added the interviews were especially crucial. "It is especially difficult to decide the winners this year because their achievements were excellent in terms of their academic and sporting performances. They also stood out as enthusiastic and committed to their sports."
South China Morning Post sports editor Noel Prentice says it was really encouraging to see a wide range of sports apart from those in the mainstream. "It's great to see a cross-section of sports, including new ones like orienteering and life-saving, and also team sports such as rugby," he says.
"The champion needs to show that their sport is No1 in their lives, which makes them dream big and achieve big. So they need to prioritise and have an overriding ambition to perform well in sport. Of course, they need to balance that with their academics and other work they do at school, as passionate and driven athletes always succeed."
Elite squash player Annie Au Wing-chi says the finalists' performance was very impressive and inspiring. "[The candidates] are self-confident and enthusiastic," she says. "The athletes' paths are never easy, but the interview showed their perseverance and commitment to their sports. It's even more inspiring to listen to athletes' special and interesting stories in international tournaments."
Lam Cho-yu, a candidate from Belilios Public School, participates in orienteering - a sport in which runners use a map and compass to find the endpoint - and has received awards in local and international tournaments. But she said her achievements would not be enough to impress the judges, because it was more important to confidently present herself.
"It's common to feel stressed in the final judging, but I treat it as competing with other runners at a tournament," Cho-yu says. "My physical and mental toughness enabled me to prepare for the interview. I was also able to present myself in a positive and professional manner to let the judges better assess my abilities and commitment."
Cho-yu's story also matched this year's theme, "Be Inspired".
"When the judges asked me about my toughest competition, I shared my experience at the 2015 Junior World Orienteering Championships in Norway. With unstable weather and unfamiliar terrain, I couldn't find the endpoint. But … my determination to reach it made me stand out as I showed my commitment, sportsmanship and dedication to my sport," she say.
Another candidate, Mark Coebergh from YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College, is a star rugby player. He has played for the U17 and U19 national teams. He says it was important to show his true self in the final judging.
"I'm fairly confident of how I did [in the interview]. I was just being myself, showing what kind of person I am," Mark says. "To show my passion for my sport, I highlighted the tournaments I was involved in. It takes a lot of dedication, time and effort to be selected for the national team.
"It's all about hanging tough on the field and showing what kind of person you are when the game is on the line."
The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on March 12.