“Some people get involved in sports to have fun or stay healthy. But for me, badminton is a family tradition,” says 17-year-old Christy Pang. Her grandparents once coached the Chinese national team, her father was one of Hong Kong’s top players in Hong Kong in the ’80s, and she has been playing from a young age.
When both your parents and grandparents excel in a sport, there’s a certain pressure to succeed. And, as a member of the Yew Chung International School badminton team, she is doing them proud. Last year, the team celebrated its fifth consecutive championship in the ISSFHK league, a tournament for the city’s international schools. Back in 2011, she played a important role in the school’s first-ever win in girls’ badminton.
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But Christy is a star player in not one, but two sports: she also loves volleyball and has been on the school team for two years. Christy likes the sport because it offers new challenges, and also helps raise her badminton game. “It’s a team sport, which I really enjoy, and it’s very different to badminton,” she says. “However, the skills I’ve gained from badminton help strengthen spikes and strong serves.”
The ISSFHK wasn’t the only tournament Christy took part in over the last 18 months: she competed in the Acamis volleyball tournament against schools including Discovery College and YCIS Shanghai. The team might not have ascended to the same glory as the ISSFHK badminton gang, but Christy loved being there all the same.
“In both tournaments, our greatest threat was maintaining self-confidence while competing with strong opponents, and overcoming setbacks,” she reflects. “Our teams have great spirit and team chants. I’m always satisfied with our performance no matter if we win or lose. We’re all fully committed to the sport, despite most of us being new to it.”
Regardless of the sport or event, when Christy knows she has a big competition coming up, she nourishes her body with lots of healthy food to see her through the intense physical demands of playing multiple games in one day. This also helps her mental state in the face of defeat, or after the tournament has ended.
“Usually I feel huge relief and happiness afterwards,” she says, “but there are also times when I really want to cry because of physical and mental fatigue.”
After her school claimed third place at the Acamis volleyball tournament, one of Christy’s teammates came forward with words of wisdom that she remembers over a year later: “One minute of performance onstage takes 10 years of hard work off stage.” It’s a resonant analogy for the months of training and determination that will go into future competitions. “It made me realise how hard we train and the amount of time and effort we put into bonding with each other,” says Christy.
Outside of sport, Christy loves to travel, and once volunteered with schoolmates in a rural village school in Cambodia. She hopes her travels will take her to international tournaments, and that she can continue her family’s longstanding badminton tradition as she plans to study in the UK.
“I’m proud of how much my grandparents contributed in bringing the Chinese team to the top of its game, and how they continue to promote the sport to the next generation.”
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
I would choose to take the sharp eyesight of an eagle, so I could quickly target the shuttlecock or volleyball and improve my reactions.
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
I like to eat light food before a competition, such as oatmeal, bananas and sandwiches.
Ten years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company are you spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I would promote Just Med HK, as they supply a lot of rehabilitation gear and treatment devices for sport injuries.