Becoming good at one sport often opens the door to other activities you wouldn’t have tried otherwise. South Island School student Jimmy Standing used the athleticism and stamina he gained from playing football to try out running, and found that he had quite the knack for it.
“After I quit football, there was about three months where I had of no proper sport training at all,” Jimmy tells Young Post. “I had noticed my friend who was very quick at all kinds of running. As I had remembered a few decent runs that I had done and loved, I asked him how to join and decided to give it a go, hoping I could stay fit and gain some speed and endurance as a starter."
It was only December last year when the 15-year-old started training with the Athletic Veterans of Hong Kong (Avohk). Coach Freeman Lee took the young runner under his wing, and set him on a course for his recent podium results. “After a month at his training, my coach saw my potential and the friend became my best training partner. From then on I was pumped to race and improve significantly,” Jimmy explains.
He names his role model as David Rudisha, double Olympic champion and multiple world champion in the 800m. “He has a tenacious, fierce attitude towards his races yet great respect for his opponents and supporters. He also has a very efficient running form and a massive stride length that I love to watch over and over again,” Jimmy explains.
Jimmy certainly channelled Rudisha’s tenacity when he competed at the Hong Kong Junior Age Group Athletic Championships. He beat his training partner to take silver in the 800m and bronze in the 1500m. “Having always lost the battle on the track to him, this was a very glorious moment for me. It was also special as I had never medalled in any track athletics event since I’d started training,” Jimmy remembers.
On the day, the Avohk runners’ morale was high. Jimmy joked with his teammates to eradicate any nerves, and Lee’s final piece of coaching before the race was “sprint like hell”. Jimmy says, “That made me laugh and pumped me up.”
Despite the fun, he took a serious approach to his preparation for running two races on the same day. Before the 800m, he did an extensive warm-up, which involved mobility exercises and stretching to prevent injury during the race. “I had to make sure that my legs were ready and that the lactic acid from the previous race in morning had been flushed away completely,” he says. "I’m lucky to have not been injured ever since I’d started training, but there have been many occasions where I was dangerously close to one."
Unusually for a final, only six of the eight runners turned up. Jimmy was surprised, but delighted when he realised that fewer competitors strengthened his chances of winning a medal. In the tricky two-lap race, he took a tactical mindset that differed from most of the other competitors. “My opponents would hang behind the leader until the very end, where they would attempt to outsprint him, whereas I would like to control the race and stay at the front. This way I could choose the pace and choose when and where to accelerate.”
His approach paid off when he snatched that silver medal. “I felt a sense of relief after knowing that I’d pushed hard enough to secure a spot on the podium, and also really saw my love of track athletics,” he says.
Like many sporty students, Jimmy uses his sport as a way to blow off steam and take his mind off school pressures. “If I hadn’t joined this training, I wouldn’t have had an effective way of dealing with stress from school,” he reflects. However, he admits that training monopolises his time – sometimes at the expense of hanging out with friends. Luckily, Jimmy’s friends understand:
“I’ve given up many opportunities with them, and instead ran or studied,” he says. “They’ve been very patient already.
Football is in the past now for the athlete, who hopes to represent Hong Kong abroad someday – especially in Australia where there is great weather for running and a strong athletics community.
He adds, “As I’ve only been running for less than a year, it’s difficult to judge how much further I can go beyond this goal, but I’m confident the hours of hard work in training will get me to this place someday.”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re running?
Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. The song’s chorus really describes my races.
Do you have a personal motto?
Not really, but since middle distance runs are almost sprints, “sprint like hell” would be an appropriate one.
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
I always eat a Special K strawberry yoghurt energy bar an hour or so before the race. I don’t know why or how but it’s become a very valuable pre-race habit. I just love that they taste so good and provide the essential energy needed for my race.
Which fictional character would you choose as your teammate?
Tom from Tom and Jerry. Chasing Jerry around the house is like mentally pushing me on the track towards the finish line.
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?
Adidas, as they produce excellent running shoes, spikes and clothing that are both comfortable to wear and beautifully made.