A heavyweight on court

A heavyweight on court

Chan Kai-yip weighs more than your average volleyball player. But that has not stopped him from being an ace in the sport

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Chan Kai-yip, 19, is a champion volleyball setter from Yan Chai Hospital No 2 Secondary School.
Chan Kai-yip, 19, is a champion volleyball setter from Yan Chai Hospital No 2 Secondary School.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP
Setter Chan Kai-yip proved he is a "heavyweight" at the All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Volleyball Tournament two weeks ago. The 19-year-old weighs 106kg and threw all that weight behind his school team, helping it to win the top honour. He landed the best setter award himself.

Kai-yip goes by the nickname "Chicken" and is a Form Six student at Yan Chai Hospital No 2 Secondary School in Tuen Mun. The school is famous for its volleyball team. Its girls' team was the 2009 and 2010 Jing Ying champion; its boys' team won the third consecutive A grade inter-school title in Tuen Mun district this school year.

So Kai-yip fits right in. "I was studying in another school and transferred to Yan Chai in 2010 after taking the HKCEE. Even though there was no volleyball team in my old school, I kept playing the sport for leisure," he says. "I didn't find it too difficult to play in a team with more skilful players. They look out for me and I treasure my participation in the team as a bonus to my school life,"

Because of his weight, Kai-yip may not be able to jump very high, but it gives him an advantage in net blocks.

Last summer, Kai-yip's weight soared to 120kg. "My mum uses a blood pressure meter regularly to monitor her health. One day she asked me to use the device. I realised I had high blood pressure," Kai-yip says.

So he went on a diet. He goes easy on candy. "I've gained so much weight because I love sweets. I always bought a pack of sweets when I walked past convenience stores and supermarkets," he says. "But the high blood pressure reminded me to control myself and take care of my health."

Thanks to his diet, Kai-yip lost almost 15kg in just a few months. Now he feels more energetic on and off the court.

"I play an important role for the team. We don't have a substitute setter this year," he explains. "I am glad that my weight loss can help me perform better on court, especially in high-intensity games."

Kai-yip came down with the flu during the Christmas holidays, just before the Jing Ying tournament. "I did badly in pre-match practice but all of my teammates were patient and supportive," he says. "That's why I thought we had a real chance to become the top team as we were united and team spirit was high."

Sure enough, the Yan Chai boys went on to win the competition. Kai-yip came in for both jeers and cheers during the final. "I could hear the shouts and the cheers," he recalls. "But people putting me down [because of my weight] didn't affect my confidence. As a part of my school team, all I could do at that moment was to give my best, not think about other people's views of me."

Kai-yip and his teammates survived a five-set thriller to win the Jing Ying title for the first time in the school's history. As the best setter, he was selected for the tournament's all-star team.

"When you are at a certain weight, you need to play smart to avoid exhausting yourself during a match," Kai-yip notes. "The coach's plan was to take advantage of my abilities and help me to stay competitive on court."

Still, Kai-yip knows he needs to lose more weight and plans to seek professional advice after his HKDSE exams. "I want to get slimmer gradually under a doctor's guidance," he says. "This is good for my health, and also for my future prospects in the sport."

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