Go-getter ploughs on

Go-getter ploughs on

Swimming ace Rachel Leung Ya-yuan is eyeing a career outside the pool as a doctor and explorer

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Swimmer Rachel Leung, a Form Six student from Diocesan Girls' School, really loves a challenge.
Swimmer Rachel Leung, a Form Six student from Diocesan Girls' School, really loves a challenge.
Photo: May Tse/SCMP
Rachel Leung Ya-yuan loves challenges. Not only is the Form Six student at Diocesan Girls' School a star athlete, she's also a dedicated volunteer and a bit of an explorer.

Rachel, 18, captained her school's swimming team, who claimed their 25th consecutive overall girls' title at the inter-school competition last October. She was named Sports Girl of the Year by the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation at an awards ceremony at BOCHK Bauhinia Bowl last Friday.

The swimmer also loves to take part in voluntary activities. "When I was seven, my mother took me along on her volunteer service," Rachel says.

"I enjoyed activities like picking up litter at beaches so I kept on volunteering. I regularly go to hospitals on Friday nights to visit the elderly and chronically ill patients."

As if her schedule wasn't full enough, she also enjoys travelling - all the way to the Arctic. Rachel visited the polar area two years ago with 11 other students as part of the Mighty Rovers Arctic Expedition programme for gifted students.

She had been forced to make a tough choice at the time; Rachel had been chosen to represent Hong Kong at that year's seventh AASF Asian Age Group Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia. But the start of the competition clashed with her planned journey.

"I felt going to the North Pole on an ice-breaking ship might well have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience," she says. "I wanted to swim at the competition, too, but in the end picked the Arctic journey."

Rachel soon realised she had chosen wisely. The one-month trip took her to countries like Denmark, Iceland and Greenland, where she carried out research under the guidance of professors from the University of Hong Kong.

Rachel, who won the Hong Kong Outstanding Students Award in the 2011-12 school year, visited the mainland last summer as part of a trip organised by the Youth Arch Foundation, a charity set up by past winners of the award.

She was very moved by the trip to a remote "Aids Village" in Fuyang, in Anhui . "I stayed there for more than a week," she says. "I saw many orphans and sick people at the village. They really needed help."

In future, Rachel hopes to be a doctor working to help people in need around the world.

For now, Rachel is taking a break from her swimming with the Hong Kong national team, after her study break for her HKDSE exams. "I am trying to decide if I want to study abroad or not," she says.

Swimming has made her disciplined and taught her to always do her best in everything she does. "I've learned about good sportsmanship, and it has made me very fit, which will help me on my global travels, and also in my voluntary work around the city," she says.

Despite her eventful career up to now, her journey has only just begun. "I want to challenge myself in everything I do. I really like the feeling of going beyond my limits."


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