Distance diva

Distance diva

Rebecki Chan is only 16, but in the long run she plans to stay a winner

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Rebecki Chan is the No 1 female junior and senior runner at 800m
Rebecki Chan is the No 1 female junior and senior runner at 800m
Photo: Thomas Yau/SCMP
Rebecki Chan has raced from zero to hero. The junior runner has been a regular on the sports page of Young Post in recent years and is an up-and-coming star.

The Form Four student from Diocesan Girls' School started her running career at the 2008-09 All-Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Cross-Country Tournament. She was in Form One then and upset many of the more experienced runners by finishing in fourth place.

"My coach, Leung Ki-yau, who was leading another school team in the tournament, spotted me and asked me if I would like to join his team. That's how I started to run seriously," Rebecki recalls.

She picked 800-metre and 1,500m track races as her major events. But she eventually found fame in long-distance running and cross-country. The 16-year-old became a well-known figure in the sport after winning the 2009-2010 Jing Ying cross-country title, just a year after she began systematic training.

At the 2009 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, Rebecki ran a junior 10-kilometre race for the first time. She recalls with a smile: "I was very green in the sport, and I didn't even notice I had won the junior race after crossing the finish line until someone gave me a ranking tag.

"I didn't know my result was counted as an overall ranking, either. I let some senior runners in the final stage go, as I thought they were not in my category. I finished fifth overall. Otherwise, I would have had a chance to be a top-three runner in the overall category."

After years of running in dozens of races, Rebecki learned to count runners as she overtook them, so that she knew her exact position at that moment, instead of running without a plan, as she did previously.

"I think my advantage in the sport is that I don't give up because of bad results. I'll get into a bad mood, but counselling from my coach always helps to guide me, and evaluate and plan for the next races. He is a key factor in my good results," she says.

Last year, Rebecki ran in numerous competitions on different levels. Locally she was undefeated in all the junior long-distance road races she entered. She has won the Jing Ying cross-country title four years in a row and is the No 1 junior and senior woman at 800 metres.

Some media outlets call her a long-distance running queen. "I don't feel any pressure when someone calls me that, but there are other outstanding female runners in Hong Kong. They deserve that tag more than I do. I haven't reached their level yet," she says.

The word "unbeatable" may cause others to lose motivation, but not Rebecki. "I am always aware of other runners' performances. There are many young ones who could improve and be as good as I am in a short time. So I always remind myself not to relax and to keep up the good work," she says.

And the targets she sets have nothing to do with titles, she adds. "Setting the Hong Kong junior record in the 10km event and finishing in about 39 minutes are my goals for 2013."

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