Heroes of the marathons

Heroes of the marathons

Several special needs students have set their sights on completing a great challenge

20130116102857.jpg

The school's long-distance runners who will be entering the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon (from left): Tang Tin-wai, Joyee Lee, Anthony Leung, Lee Ming-chun, Ho Tim-ming, Jack Ng, Tai Man-ting.
The school's long-distance runners who will be entering the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon (from left): Tang Tin-wai, Joyee Lee, Anthony Leung, Lee Ming-chun, Ho Tim-ming, Jack Ng, Tai Man-ting.
Photo: May Tse/SCMP
Mental disability? That is no hindrance to student athletes of HHCKLA Buddhist Po Kwong School. They did quite well in 10km races at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon in previous years. Next month, some of the school's runners plan to go one better: they want to take on a gruelling half-marathon challenge.

The school in Fan Ling is for slightly mentally handicapped students from Primary One to Secondary Six. Besides normal lessons, students can take a variety of fun classes and sports activities after school.

That's how the idea of introducing long-distance running to students came to be, says the school's co-ordinator of sports activities, PE teacher Lee Kwong-shun. "In 2007, I took part in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon [10k event]. I was amazed by the atmosphere and determined to bring the sport to my school," Lee says. He started to enrol students for a team. "We had a very good response from students," the teacher says.

"We had selections to pick [only those] students who could complete the 10km distance. The limit would ensure that we had enough teachers who volunteered to take care of our students on a one-on-one basis. In the end, we had about 10 students joining the marathon for the first time in 2008."

The school did its best to make sure the students were well trained and relaxed before the race. "We were able to arrange overnight accommodation for them before the race day," Lee says. "We also got sponsorships from some generous donors to cover part of the expenses on enrolment fees and kits for students."

Long-distance running caught on in the school. "We continued to participate in the marathon," Lee says. "This year is our sixth time in a row. We have five students in the 10km race and three in the half-marathon race."

All the students have been training hard. "We kicked off our training when the school year started," the teacher says. "Right now we train three to four times a week."

The runners at Po Kwong all seemed eager athletes when Young Post visited the school. Form Six student Jack Ng Tsz-him, 19, is going to represent his school for the third time at next month's marathon. "I had smooth progress in both 2010 and 2011," Jack says. "I was accompanied by my teacher the first year and by my mum last year. I want to complete the 10km race faster this year - within one hour."

One of Jack's teammates is Joey Lee Chau-ping, 17, a Form Three student. She also ran in the 10km race last year.

She was part of the Hong Kong athletics team for mentally disabled athletes.

For the first time in the school's history, she and two other students will join the half-marathon this year. "I have full confidence that I can run a longer distance," says Joey. "I like running from the school to Tai Po with teammates and teachers. It is not tough as I am fit."

A new member of the team is Anthony Leung Tsz-shing, 16. He only started training last September. "This will be my first race," says Anthony, who studies in Form Four. "I did not find the training too difficult."

He then adds: "I am really happy when I run."

Tag: 

Comments

To post comments please
register or