With exceptional time management, a student can be successful in both school and sport. But some athletes want to focus more on their sport. A perfect example is tennis great Roger Federer, who turned professional when he was just 17. Is this possible for Hong Kong's young athletes?
The city's top foil fencer, 18-year-old Edgar Cheung Ka-long, has found a way. He's taking part in a partnership programme between the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) and two institutions from the Elite Athlete-Friendly School Network - the English Schools Foundation and Lam Tai Fai College (LTFC).
HKSI and LTFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 which provides Edgar with a highly integrated and flexible curriculum that lets him train full-time and continue his studies at the secondary level. "Thanks to the programme, I'm now able to stay focused on training and take part in international competitions," he said.
Edgar became a full-time fencer when he was in Form Four. His coach, Wang Changyong, said Edgar worked very hard.
"It's amazing that he's been able to master all basic techniques, thanks to his hard work in every training session. I'm also glad to see his great improvement in emotional maturity," said Wang.
Edgar currently ranks 30th in the world, making him the top fencer in Hong Kong. At the Asian Junior & Cadet Fencing Championship in Amman, Jordan, in March, 2014, he became the first athlete to win four gold medals. "The competition served as a confidence booster as it showed my hard work paid off," said Edgar.
But his biggest lesson came in the team foil quarter-final against the Fuzhou fencing team at the first National Youth Games in Fuzhou , Fujian province, on October 23 last year.
"I was eager to win as both teams were neck-and-neck in the matches. I put a lot of pressure on myself but it didn't work," he said. In the end, Edgar lost the match and his team came in fifth.
"I learned a lot from the battle against Fuzhou and know now that it's more crucial to control unexpected and tough situations. Instead of putting pressure on myself, I focus more on how I can do my best in every single point," he says. "It's a great learning opportunity to face all challenges individually."
Edgar is now fighting for Olympic qualification at three upcoming competitions, including the Grand Prix in Havana, Cuba, from March 11-13.
For any aspiring fencers out there, Edgar suggests it's about pain and gain.
"You won't treat it seriously if you take it as a form of entertainment, and I don't think you'd see any improvement. So you need to prepare for physical and mental endurance," says Edgar. "This is the key to becoming a successful fencer."
Who is your favourite athlete?
Former NBA player Dennis Rodman - for his basketball skills, not his unusual appearance.
What kind of music do you listen to before your matches?
Before competitions, I love listening to upbeat music that motivates me to perform better.
If you could have any superpower for 24 hours, what would you choose and how would you use your power?
The Time Machine in the Japanese manga series, Doraemon, because I would be able to perform better and avoid making any mistakes.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
Unlimited time, so I can practise more to be a stronger fencer.