If there’s one thing sprinter Herry Wong Cheuk-hei won’t ever forget, it’s his intense battle against Diocesan Boys’ School’s (DBS) Leung Dun-pok in the 200m final during last year’s Inter-School Athletics Competition. Herry had led the race for the first 70 metres and, thinking that he had the gold in the bag, slowed down. Much to his shock, his 17-year-old DBS opponent bounced back during the last 30 metres, and overtook him to grab first place.
When asked if he had been satisfied with the silver, the answer from Herry is an emphatic no. After his loss, the 18-year-old student from Yu Chun Keung Memorial College trained harder than ever before, and taught himself to remain vigilant even after the Interschool Competition was over. One thing he needs to remember, he says, is to always stay focused during a race, and to not think too much.
“That was a huge lesson for me,” says Herry. “I could have won, but I underestimated my opponent and the situation. Anything can happen, especially during the last few seconds. Leung’s always so calm, and that’s something I need to learn from him.”
Herry’s training now focuses on perfecting his sprint for the last 30 metres of a race. To increase his top speed and power, Herry has made substantial changes to his regime, adding resistance training to build up his leg muscles. This, he says, will help to improve his speed and his running form.
“My agility is something I need to work on, because [as a runner] I might need to suddenly need to change speed. I need to coordinate my arm movements with that of my legs, too,” Herry says. He adds that he practises each movement that he wants to improve – whether it’s lifting his legs or moving his arms – more than a hundred times each so that he can make sure it’s perfect.
Herry says his coach, Tang Hon-sing, makes sure he doesn’t neglect his running posture when training either.
“[You’ve got to] always keep your body leaning forward, as this helps you speed up. You should also lift your knees when you run so you can push down and move forwards with more force.”
Herry’s intensive training has paid off. He won several titles at the most recent SCAA Inter-School Athletics Meet that took place at Wan Chai Sports Ground, setting a new record in the 200m with a time of 22.13 seconds. He also won gold in the 100m with a time of 10.97 seconds.
But he’s not done – Herry has set his sights on breaking even more records on March 3 at the Division One Inter-School Athletics Competition (Kowloon and Hong Kong Island) finals, and he is looking forward to competing against Dun-pok in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay races.
When asked about the preparations he has in store for the tournament, Herry says that he will put be taking it easy and focusing on his recovery, as he wants to be in perfect form when he races against his DBS rival.
Which fictional character would you choose as your teammate?
The Japanese cartoon character Monkichi. He’s cute, friendly and cheerful. I always feel like I’m under a lot of pressure because of all the training and tournaments, but I think I wouldn’t feel quite so stressed if I had Monkichi by my side.
You can have the abilities of any animal for one competition. Which do you choose and why?
A cheetah, because they’re the fastest land animal in the world. Their ability to get up to their top speed in a very short time is amazing. I think they can do that because of their stamina and running posture, and those are things that I always focus on improving.
Who is your favourite athlete?
My coach and hurdle expert, Tang Hon-sing. He was a record-holder in the 110m hurdle race, and he has taught me many things, like how I should position my arms and legs when I’m running. He reminds me how important the last 30 metres of a race are and why it’s vital to maintain or even accelerate here.
What song title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Hironobu Kageyama’s Heats, which is a theme song for the Japanese series Getter Robo Armageddon. This song always energises me and boosts my confidence.