Best foot forward

Best foot forward

Ready for anything, Matthew Pang found success in the long jump by accident

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Matthew Pang is an all-round athlete who competes in athletics, football, basketball and volleball, but he excels at the long jump and triple jump.
Matthew Pang is an all-round athlete who competes in athletics, football, basketball and volleball, but he excels at the long jump and triple jump.
Photo: Edmond So/SCMP
A mistake can develop into a disaster, but in the case of 19-year-old Matthew Pang Ying-kit, it led him towards a successful career in sports.

Matthew has been an iconic star of inter-school sports since primary school. He is a popular all-rounder. "I am active in the athletics, football, basketball and volleyball teams, and I played table tennis in Primary Four. I was hyperactive and I enjoyed games," says the frequent medallist at contests. Besides ball games, he competed in the high jump and the 200m run in primary school.

When he was in Primary Six, instead of the high jump, his club wrongly entered him in the long jump in a tournament. The error was discovered too late to change.

"I had no choice but to compete in the long jump," Matthew recalls. "But my coach was impressed by my performance and told me to receive training." This helped him choose his major event.

The athlete moved to La Salle College for his secondary studies, and kept winning at the long jump when representing his school and his club, Watsons Athletic Club.

His career high was in the 2009-2010 season. He won a silver medal at the Asian Youth Games and Asian Youth Athletics Championships. He played basketball, football and athletics for his school and that earned him the BOCHK Bauhinia Bowl Sports Boy of the Year Award.

His only regret that season was his failure to qualify for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. In the same summer, he got more bad news: his exam results were not satisfactory either, and he chose to repeat Form Five.

But Matthew is tough and the failures didn't affect his confidence. "I like victories, but I also think defeats are essential. The bitterness of defeat reminds me how sweet it is if I can win again," he says. The Form Six student got himself back on track in both sports and academics.

Matthew won the Sports Boy of the Year Award for the second time in the 2010-11 school year. He helped his school win the football title and three gold medals - in the long jump, triple jump and 4x100m relay race - at the Inter-school Athletics Championships. Despite a back injury, his top finish in the relay secured the overall title for his school team. This year, he has the opportunity to equal the record of former La Salle student Ricco Chan by winning his third consecutive Sports Boy of the Year award.

Matthew will compete for La Salle for the last time in the Division One athletics championships to be held on February 16, 21 and 24. The defending champion in the long jump and triple jump will fight for the two gold medals. You can watch him perform at the Wan Chai Sports Ground. A detailed timetable of events is at www.hkssf.org.hk.

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