Last year’s finalists went above and beyond in meeting the criteria of The Student of the Year – Sportsperson award. Each year, it is given to students who have made significant achievements in and have shown a strong commitment to sports.
Here, the 2015 finalists share some tips on how to stand out from the crowd when it comes to being considered for this award.
Last year’s winner, Harmony Lam Cho-yu, surprised the judges because her sport, orienteering, was not a typical one. What caught the judges’ eyes was her pleasant demeanour that made them want to know more about her.
“I was very nervous but no one noticed. The secret is to just keep smiling,” said the 19-year-old student from the University of Hong Kong. “You need to find a way to calm your nerves.”
Harmony said she had to describe what orienteering was to the judges, as few athletes actually do it as a sport.
“The judges were curious about it. I kept my explanation simple. I said, ‘In orienteering, you use a compass and a map when you are trying to find a destination. The first person to reach it, wins’.
“I also compared my sport with the [reality TV game show] Amazing Race and cross country. Try not to embellish what you say too much,” she said.
The 2015 winner said she expects many of this year’s finalists to just talk about their achievements, and mention the skills required for their sport.
“The other finalists will say that, too. If the judges ask you what you’ve learned from your sport, you should tell a unique story that marked a turning point in your sporting life. If you don’t have one, then tell the judges how you apply the skills you’ve gained from your sport to everyday life,” Harmony said.
“Don’t forget you’re also just a regular person. You’ll experience what it’s like to fall short of achieving something. The judges want to see how you bounced back from that.”
Last year’s first runner-up Ivy Liu Hoi-yan, 17, from TWGHs S. C. Gaw Memorial College, said the interview tested your ability to improvise.
“You have to prepare answers for questions that get asked a lot. One judge wanted to know how I managed to balance my time between sports and studies. I had prepared for that question,” Ivy said.
“The challenging question came later when another judge asked me which sport I preferred doing – as I was doing both rhythmic gymnastics and athletics events. I knew a simple answer like ‘I like both’ wasn’t what they were looking for.”
She talked about how she was due to take part in two competitions which were held at the same time. She opted for the athletics events at the 2015 Hong Kong Games.
“I had to choose which competition to compete in. I knew I would not get many opportunities like the Games. My teammates and I won bronze in the 4x400 metre relay, so I told the judges that I made the right decision,” Ivy said.
She also recommends choosing a language that will help you to fully express yourself. “Language shouldn’t be an obstacle when communicating with the judges,” she said.
Second runner-up Mark Coebergh, an 18-year-old rugby star, said that in his interview he highlighted certain moments that helped transform him into an athlete capable of leading a team to success in local and international tournaments.
“The interview is your time to shine,” he said. “Point out memorable moments – but don’t forget to also say what’s in your heart. Speak freely, but with clarity. You’ll need that in your interview to make it understandable and relevant.”