Why pick one sport when you can be brilliant at lots of them? Ho Chak-sum has represented Hong Kong at pole vault, competed in trampoline competitions, sails, rides in BMX races, roller skates, hikes, wind surfs, plays tennis, and even joined YP in Sai Kung for a scuba diving session last year. In short, the sportsman, who admits he “always likes to move” and idolises tennis player Gael Monfils, could fill our Sunday sports pages with inspiration every week until Christmas. That’s why it was tough choosing just one activity to discuss with Young Post. In the end, it had to be lacrosse.
It is two years since the HKU student first picked up a lacrosse stick. The game is popular at Ho’s university, and he tried it while living in halls. He found that he liked the contact aspect of lacrosse, as well as how it also rolls the elements of lots of sports he enjoys into one quirky game. “It’s a bit like basketball, football, tennis and ice hockey put together,” Ho, 20, explains.
Of course, dedicating so much time to extra-curricular activities takes its toll on his social life, and Ho says he doesn’t get to see or spend time with his friends as often as he’d like. That said, the camaraderie forged on the pitch can build solid relationships that can endure the roughest matches.
Ho is still riding high on the adrenaline of last month’s U19 World Lacrosse Championships in Coquitlam, Canada. Hong Kong trained hard for months beforehand, putting in time at the gym, raising fitness levels across the team, and even getting a lesson in sports psychology to make sure everyone’s head was in the game. Even with all that preparation behind them, meeting the competition in Canada was still daunting. “The level that the top nations such as USA, Canada and Iroquois played at still surprised me, even though I knew they were amazing,” Ho says.
After a tough 10-3 first match against Israel, Hong Kong took on Taiwan, Mexico, Germany, Scotland and Korea and came 11th overall out of 14 teams. Hong Kong went out on a high, winning their final match against Korea, and months of tension evaporated from Ho’s shoulders.
“When the final whistle was blown I was just super happy that we won and finished off strong,” he recalls. “I was also extremely relieved that we had finally finished and that it was the end of the daily training and dreaded recovery sessions. However, that night and the following days, I felt nostalgic, and experienced a sense of appreciation of the whole tournament.”
Now, Ho is looking forward to graduating university and has set his sights on representing Hong Kong again at the lacrosse World Championships in 2018. The future is extremely bright for Ho, who has that rare combination of quiet self-confidence and humility. He’s keen to point out that, rather than stoking his ego, he wants his interview to encourage others to get into sport, and reassure them that it’s never too late to try something new. “I started both lacrosse and athletics when I was 18,” he says.
“Hopefully, we can send a message to the readers rather than just focusing on me.”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Real Steel. Keep fighting and pick yourself up if you get knocked down. And don’t be scared of your opponents. I watched Eddie the Eagle on the flight back from my competition and that was really inspiring too.
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
An echidna. I’d be spiky, so people wouldn’t be able to get too close during a game.
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
I don’t really have anything. I usually just drink water.
Which fictional character would you choose as your team mate?
Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter. I think quidditch players would make great lacrosse players.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
Under Armour. They make a lot of lacrosse products so I would probably promote them.