Inspirational sports stories always read the same way: it was a hard-fought victory, but the team pulled together at the last minute and won the game. Cue some uplifting background music and the crowd goes wild.
But every time a team beats the odds, they also beat another team. And with a major sporting event like the Asia-Pacific Activities Conference (Apac) held last weekend, there was more than enough victory and defeat to go around.
Twelve international schools from across the region battled in swimming, basketball, table tennis and forensics.
Hong Kong International School (HKIS) represented our city. Playing on home turf, the HKIS girls' swimming team defended their title. Captain Kristen Sun and teammate Ivy Richter broke three individual records combined, and Kristen and Ivy, with teammates Jocelyn Hung and Kiki Anderson, broke the 4x50 metre medley relay record twice on the same day.
The boys had a rougher time, but still placed second for the first time in years, finishing behind reigning champions International School of Beijing (ISB).
If this were a movie, ISB would be the big villain for our heroes to overcome. And HKIS boys Nick Koh, Nicholas Chan, Henry Packer and Brian Versteeg did manage to strike a major blow, defeating ISB in the 4x100m freestyle relay for the first time in many years.
And just like in a movie, it was a nail-biting finish. Although behind for the first 300 metres, the boys caught up in the final seconds.
"No one expected such a victory over the defending champions of this race," Kiki said. "This performance even shocked the coach."
Meanwhile, the HKIS basketball girls were at Shanghai American School - Puxi (SAS PX). Even though they were playing in unfamiliar territory, the HKIS girls still came out on top.
In their toughest match, against Seoul Foreign School (SFS), the HKIS girls grew anxious as they began to fall behind. But they managed to pull it together and sustain their undefeated streak, winning 52-45.
Teammate Sonja Scheller said HKIS saved its best for the last four minutes. "We realised then that we were going to be the next champions and that we could win super Apac," she says.
At the same time, the HKIS basketball boys were competing in Seoul at SFS. On foreign soil, HKIS met its match, finishing just short of the podium behind SAS PX, Shanghai American School - Pudong (SAS PD) and SFS, respectively.
Up against 12 highly competitive teams, the HKIS boys, led by captains and all-apac athletes Julian Chan and Freddy Marsh, had a tense round of games.
In a play-off against Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), HKIS was a point behind after leading in the first three quarters. In the last two seconds, Freddy threw a perfect pass and Julian shot a three pointer just as the buzzer rang.
Reflecting on their last two games, Julian felt a pang of disappointment. "We could have won it all, if not at least got to the finals," he said. "We were just unlucky and blew the semi-final everyone expected us to win."
Still, he was pleased with the results given the high level and that their team only had four returning players.
Back in Shanghai at Concordia International School Shanghai (CISS), HKIS faced more defeat in table tennis as SAS PD took the title for both boys and girls, with ISB in second in both categories.
The HKIS table-tennis boys learned days before the competitions that one top player could not come, so they had to forfeit two out of five games. Despite the disadvantage, Aiyush Mohta said the team "shook it off, worked harder and played better".
HKIS' Kenneth Zheng took third in the boys' singles and first in the boys' doubles with his partner and captain, Wong Kwan-long. The pair took the second set 13-11, along with the third set, but it wasn't enough to pull the team up after their forfeiture.
Nearby at SAS PD, the forensics teams were putting their eloquence and debating skills to the test. But HKIS simply couldn't match the more practiced mainland schools.
HKIS forensics team member Amanda Liang was still proud of their efforts. "The greatest moments weren't those of victory or defeat but the interactions between people," she said.
2nd: SAS PD
3rd: SAS PX
Girls' super basketball:
2nd: SAS PX
Boys' super basketball:
1st: SAS PX
2nd: SAS PD
Girls' table tennis:
1st: SAS PD
Boys' table tennis:
1st: SAS PD
1st: SAS PX