The long jump sounds like it could be a very easy sport, as all you need to do is jump as far as you can. However, it can be technically challenging. For instance, it’s never easy to know how to make best use of the take-off board or avoid overstepping it. Long jumper Harold Ko Ho-long has learned how to master the sport.
“It requires power, speed and coordination,” says the 18-year-old from St Joseph’s Anglo-Chinese School. “You need strong leg power to help you take off as well as you can. Weight training can strengthen your legs and trunk. Then you have to run fast, as the momentum can carry you forward when taking off.”
The most difficult part of the long jump is the high level of balance required, Harold says. “After taking off, you have to coordinate your body movements. Look up and stay in the air as long as you can. Push your body forward and land with your arms and legs in front of you. All the long jumping movements need to balance in every way.”
Harold adds that rhythm is key to the long and triple jumps. He has to count his paces (20 steps from where he starts) with good timing throughout the games. Any loss of rhythm can be disastrous as it could make him overstep the take-off board, and the jump would be fouled. Speed and distance would also be affected. He looks up to long jumper Chan Ming-tai, who can smoothly coordinate all of his movements.
“Chan can run 100 metres within 11 seconds. With his explosive speed and power, he can jump very far. But the most crucial part of his brilliant performance is his ability to combine everything into great momentum that carries him forward. His strengths, including balance and coordination, are what I need to improve upon in the future.”
Harold was one of a few athletes who broke two records at the 2016-2017 Division One Inter-School Athletics Competition (Kowloon and Hong Kong Island) early this month. He scooped a gold medal in the A-grade boys’ long jump with a record-breaking leap of 7.36 metres. He also set the A-grade boys’ triple jump record with 14.82 metres to win gold.
The young jumper hopes to compete for Hong Kong in the long jump event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Asked how he will make his dream come true, Harold says he’ll follow in Chan’s footsteps to improve his speed, coordination and agility.
“The perfect form is also needed. I will practise each movement, like running, taking off, and arm and leg synchronisation many times in each training session. Apart from practice, I’ll watch videos of my races and training sessions to help me improve as these clips clearly show where I go wrong.”
How do you reward yourself after a big sport event?
By drinking Coke. It’s my favourite drink as it tastes so good. I can’t drink it for six months before any big event like the Inter-school Athletics Competition because it contains too much sugar, which is not good for athletes. So after any tournament, I go straight to the convenience store and drink as many cans of Coke as I can.
Who is your favourite athlete?
English football player Steven Gerrard. He always creates goal chances for his team members and knows how to cheer them up in difficult times. Apart from his superb football skills, he can control his speed whenever he wants. I hope to emulate his versatile skills and fighting spirit.
You can have the abilities of any animal for one competition. Which do you choose and why?
Kangaroos’ or frogs’ legs, because they can jump so far.
What song title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
You’ll Never Walk Alone. The song always reminds me that I’m not on my own. Many people, including my coach Animo Chan Wai-yin, my friends and my parents, always support me. They motivate me to work harder and jump further and higher.