Every four years, the Olympic Games provide a great example of human physical achievements. We remember the thrilling competitions, but how much do most of us know about the spirit of the Games? Last month, 36 athletes from 11 elite sports got to find out more, when they were selected to take part in the three-day Olympism Camp. There, they were divided into three teams based on the Olympic motto citius, altius, fortius (or "faster, higher, stronger" in English).
Loo Ka-fu, a rower and the leader of Team Fortius, said: "I also took part in last year's camp, and with that experience, they chose me as one of the three team leaders."
Now finishing business studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the 23-year-old felt this year was quite different. "Last year, I was just a member who had to follow instructions," she said. "But this year, I had to remind myself from time to time to take care of my team and to ask my members what they had learned from each activity. The responsibility is much bigger."
For newbies, the camp is an eye-opening chance to learn about the core values of Olympism - excellence, respect and friendship - in a non-competitive way.
"I am a 100m and 200m runner and I do relays as well," says 16-year-old sprinter Wu Cheuk-yan, who was also on the Fortius team. "In relays, we have to do things very quickly, including passing the baton accurately and efficiently. Sometimes I've lost trust in my teammates, but after the team-building activities in the camp, I have learned the importance of trust and cooperating with each other."
A Form Four student at St Stephen's Girls' College, Cheuk-yan added: "There was an activity where we had to climb a wall. Girls tend to be weaker than boys but our male members were all so helpful and lent a hand. This was when I realised the beauty of team work."
The athletes also attended lectures on Olympic history and Olympism, psychology, anti-doping and nutrition, media interview skills, and more. At the closing ceremony, the three teams illustrated what they had learned with a play.
"The drama was my favourite part of the camp. We spent two nights preparing and rehearsing for it," says Sandy Choi, a Form Four student at Jockey Club Ti-I College. The 15-year-old was also first runner-up in the Techno 293 of last year's Asian Sailing Competition.
Sandy and her Citius team mates performed the inspiring story of her team leader and fellow windsurfer, the 2014 Asian Games men's mistral gold medallist, Cheng Kwok-fai.
"Windsurfing is a very independent sport, so I especially treasure the friendships I made and the team activities I experienced at the camp," says Sandy.
Altius team member, Martin Lam Ho-yin, a Form Four student at La Salle College, is a promising Hong Kong swimmer. He pocketed two gold medals in the Inter-School Competition (Division 1) last October. He says the camp's emphasis on respect really motivated him.
"When I was younger and I won a competition, I wouldn't think about how my opponents felt. But gradually, I learned to be more thoughtful. Now I try to give them a pat on the back to show my support. The camp has reinforced my idea of respect," says the 16-year-old.
The third Olympism Camp is now over, but it has inspired these athletes to continue their pursuit of Olympic glory, and maintain the spirit of the Games.