Tall ambition

Tall ambition

At 1.93m, La Salle student Alex Chan has taken the volleyball scene by storm

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Tall ambition_L
Photo: Nora Tam
Alex Chan Chi-wai - the tallest player in the Hong Kong volleyball youth team - is the new star in town. The 1.93m tall boy from La Salle College was selected for the Asian Games squad, and at 17, was the youngest player on the list.

With his height, it is easier for Alex to spike and block the ball at the net. Alex has "volleyball DNA" in his blood: his parents are about 1.7m tall and his uncle Chan Chau-mo is a legend in the sport. Alex's uncle made local volleyball history when he joined the Hong Kong team aged 16. But unlike now, there was no youth squad at the time. He also represented Hong Kong at the Asian Games more than two decades ago.

"I was very happy to know I was part of the Asian Games delegation as I don't really know whether I will get a chance to play in the Games in future," Alex says. "Hong Kong also sent a team to Doha [Qatar] in 2006, but the last [volleyball] delegation to the Games before Doha was more than 20 years ago, in which my uncle participated."

Despite his young age and inexperience, Alex is already a key player of the Hong Kong team. He was the top scorer in losses against Japan and Myanmar at last year's Asian Games in Guangzhou - his first appearance in an international multi-sport event. He credits his performance to his mum and dad.

"They came to watch the two matches and I did well in both. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I thanked them for coming to see me play in such a big event," Alex says.

He also praised his senior teammates. "They were very caring throughout the trip and they never treated me like a kid. We were like old buddies and it was an honour to be with them."

Despite his all-round skills, Alex's school performance is not perfect. His record includes second-place finishes in inter-school Division One and Jing Ying volleyball, and in beach volleyball and basketball.

Because of his height, the spotlight was always on Alex in inter-school matches. He was also the "talk at the court", earning the nickname "Asian Games Wai" because of his participation in the regional showpiece.

Alex says he had previously put too much pressure on himself during inter-school competitions. "I thought I must not lose any matches as I was one of the best junior players in Hong Kong," he says. "I later realised that besides ability, it is teamwork which determines the winning team on court. After that, I never thought about my ability."

While he has shown his prowess on the volleyball court, Alex says he is worried by his studies.

He regrets he did not study hard enough for last year's HKCEE. He is now repeating Form Five and will take the HKDSE next year. "Except for practice sessions and playing matches, I spend most of my leisure time studying. I am determined to study harder and enter university next year," he says.

While his height has given him a significant advantage on court, Alex says it can be a "headache" sometimes, especially on a mini-bus.

"For many years, I have been taking public transport. But sometimes I still hit my head on the door when I get off a mini-bus," says Alex.

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