Wah Yan College’s B-grade cross country boys’ team have a lot to live up to, after its A-grade boys upset powerhouse Diocesan Boys’ School for the championship last year.
With a tireless work ethic, and B-grade individual champion Clemens Cheung Sui-him in their line-up, it’s certainly possible they will follow in their elders’ footsteps.
“It was like a dream,” Clemens said of becoming champion last year. “At the same time, our graduates always tell us if you win something once, it’s just luck. You have to keep winning to really prove yourself.”
The 16-year-old hopes to inspire more young people to try cross country. “I love it because the harder you work, the better your results,” he explained. “When I won, I wanted to show people that if I can do it, you can do it, too, because I was like you at the beginning of my running career.”
Clemens and his teammates are looking forward to the Puma Hong Kong Youth Road Relay 2018 in Central on March 25, where they could win up to HK$4,000.
“It’s a really unique experience because it’s a long-distance race which is also a relay, so it helps our teamwork,” explained Clemens’ teammate Chris Ngan Shing-hang. “There’s also a fun carnival where you can get cool souvenirs, it’s just a really great experience. It’s my favourite race in Hong Kong.”
Chris said having his close friend and champion Clemens as a teammate helps him perform better.
“We push each other,” said the 15-year-old. “We try and get the better of each other during training, and afterwards we often discuss our results and what we can do better. It helps us get better as individuals and as a team.”
Another member of the squad, Kirk Chan, 15, said he wouldn’t be where he was without his teammates.
“Even though running is an individual sport you are not alone in cross country. You have teammates to cheer with and help you stay strong.”
Kirk suffered a serious knee injury during a race last year. “I couldn’t even finish, I had to be carried off by a golf cart, and I couldn’t train for several months,” he said.
“I wanted to give up, but my teammates and coaches inspired me to work harder than ever before. Now I am faster than I’ve ever been.”
The team’s young prodigy, 13-year-old Trevor Yam Chun-hung, said the team encouraged him to not be intimidated by the fact he is younger than the others.
“At the beginning of last year, most of my teammates were bigger, faster, and stronger than me, and I wanted to give up,” Trevor said. “But they encouraged me to keep going. I followed them and now I’m much stronger than before.”
When asked if they enjoyed cross country, all four boys answered emphatically: “Of course”.
“My favourite part of cross country is the feeling after you make it through the somewhat horrible training programme,” Chris said. “It’s very difficult during training, very tiring, but the feeling afterwards is so rewarding.”
All four boys, who hope to run for Hong Kong one day, said they love the “runner’s high”, a feeling of great joy that takes place during an intense run. “It’s the best feeling,” Clemens said, advising other young athletes to “concentrate on what you love. Life is more enjoyable that way”.