When athletes brag about how they're going to kick an opponent's butt, they don't actually mean they would put a boot up their rival's backside. But for martial artist Lydia Sham Hui-yu, such a boast would not be empty words.
As a wushu star, the 15-year-old student at Sha Tin College can kick butt, both literally and figuratively.
Lydia has been practising wushu since Primary One, and says the combative nature of the sport was the main reason she got involved. "My mother told me that girls needed to know how to protect ourselves," she says. "So I started joining wushu classes."
But this martial art is about more than just beating up your opponent. Wushu is a very technical sport, and contestants are also judged on presentation and movement.
"Wushu has many cool moves, and I think it's spectacular," Lydia says. "But most of them are really challenging, and I need to practise a lot to do them."
And as might be expected of any combat sport, injuries do happen. "Sometimes, I may get hurt, and this will affect my practice," admits Lydia. "Also, flexibility is very important. I think I'm not flexible enough, so I need to pay more attention to flexibility."
Getting those moves right takes hours of dedicated training. In the lead-up to her last competition in August in Inner Mongolia, Lydia says she needed all the practice she could get before going up against wushu competitors from across Asia. "We trained in Beijing for about two weeks before the competition," Lydia says. "We trained twice a day, and each session lasted for 21/2 hours."
And even with all that practice, it can still be scary going into a competition. "I remember when I saw the opponent for the first time, I felt scared, and I thought I would lose. They were great, and they did everything well," Lydia recalls. "But my teammates kept cheering for me. They are so warm-hearted and made me smile. They made me do better in the competition."
Lydia is hoping wushu will be an Olympic sport one day. "If wushu is in the Olympics in the future, I hope I can participate and get a gold medal," she says.
In the meantime, she still has other goals in mind: "I will try my best to win a gold medal at the Asian Games."
What song/movie title best describes you when you're playing your sport?
The Martian, because it is about an astronaut who tries his best to survive in difficult conditions. I also train every day and try to do my best.
If you could have any superpower for 24 hours, what would you choose and how would you use this power?
I would choose teleportation because I could go to school or training in just a second and whenever I want. I could go to another country, too.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
It would be energy because I often feel tired after training or school. With unlimited energy, I could complete all my tasks very efficiently and take part in more activities every day.
Ten years into the future, you are a famous athlete. What company would you sign on as spokesperson for, and what product would you promote?
I would like to promote Nike products. I use Nike wear when I practise, and they are really comfortable.