Learning the ropes

Learning the ropes

Hong Kong's skippers have enough skill to take in the world's best

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Hong Kong skipping team members (from left) Enoch Chan Yin-lok, Timothy Ho Chu-ting and Ivy Lee Wan-sze
Hong Kong skipping team members (from left) Enoch Chan Yin-lok, Timothy Ho Chu-ting and Ivy Lee Wan-sze
Photo: Felix Wong
Rope-skipping is child's play - or so it seems for most of us in school. Yet for some Hong Kong teens, it's a serious sport that lets them compete at an international level.

One of the local rope-skipping stars is Timothy Ho Chu-ting, who boasts a tally of six gold, one silver and three bronze medals from two world championships.

What makes him truly proud, though, is to be Hong Kong's first skipping champ to have clinched a medal - a bronze - in an individual category at a world championship.

Timothy, 15, was part of the team representing Hong Kong at the recent 2010 Rope Skipping World Championships and World Youth Tournament in London.

The Hong Kong teens pitted their skipping skills against the world's best young athletes in the sport, including those from the United States, Belgium and Japan. Participants competed, both during team and individual events, in two major categories: freestyle and speed.

Speed skipping involves jumping over a rope as many times as you can in three minutes. The world record in Timothy's age category is a whopping 976 skips.

The Hong Kong teen came close to breaking the record with 964 skips. "It's my personal best and I'm happy with it," Timothy said, adding that he had to compete against older, more experienced skippers.

Yet breaking the world record may not be far off for the student from HK & Kowloon Kaifong Women's Association Sun Fong Chung College. "That's not far beyond my imagination and I'm confident I will do it in future," Timothy said.

And he isn't the only Hong Kong skipping talent. Enoch Chan Yin-lok from Baptist Sha Tin Wai Lui Ming Choi Primary School is 11 years old. He won two gold and three bronze medals in Britain.

Enoch said he had a great time at the contests' venue at Loughborough University. "We were happy to meet famous skippers there and took photos with them. We had only seen them performing on video footage before and it was cool to see them doing all the tricks live in front of us," he said.

But there was disappointment for Ivy Lee Wan-sze, 13, from SMKMCF Ma Ko Pan Memorial College, and her teammates.

"Our girls' team finished in fourth place in two categories, and that made us sad," the student said. "I could not help crying after the competition."

Ivy had been urged to skip rope by her PE teacher when she was in Primary Three.

"Since then I've been on the school's skipping team," Ivy said. "I am eager to learn and always think about new combinations for my freestyle skipping routine."

Our athletes' superb performance at the world championships will likely inspire many local youngsters to try out the sport.

"Skipping is suitable for all teenagers," the Hong Kong team's coach, Ken Cheng Kam-yuen, said. "Even young people with some physical and mental disabilities can train without problems."

He said skipping has many health benefits and can help improve heart and lung conditions.

Skipping doesn't require much equipment and can be practised anywhere, Cheng added.

"All beginners need is a rope, which cost less than 100 dollars and can last for many years," the coach noted. "Once kids learn to synchronise their hand and leg movements, they are ready for some proper training."

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