Judges are impressed with this year’s Student of the Year (SOTY) – Sportsperson candidates, all of whom share a dream of contributing to sport development in the city. The theme of this year’s event is “The Future in Our Hands”, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover. In keeping with this theme, judges asked candidates what they have done for their sports and what would happen in the future.
Badminton star Yeung Sum-yee, from Heep Yunn School, is currently ranked 34th in the world for junior women’s singles. Judges knew about her remarkable achievements in local and international tournaments, but what really surprised them was Sum-yee’s concern about the current situation and the future of her sport.
“I told the judges: ‘if we ask for more resources, the stark reality is that we need to win more titles in world badminton events’,” said the 17-year-old.
She added that she was just being herself in the interview. “I’m always confident, cheerful and realistic,” said Sum-yee. “I hope my thoughts inspired the judges, but certainly I needed to show what I’ve done for my sport. So I shared many stories from my sports career, and told them I was afraid to stay in one place, and that I need to constantly improve.”
Another candidate, Lo Ng-shuen from Yuen Long Merchants Association Secondary School, is a star roller skater. He spoke about the limitations of his sport in the city.
“There are not many indoor roller rinks, so we have to practise at the outdoor skate parks, and we are always affected by the weather,” said Ng-shuen. “The thing is, if we don’t have a roller skating rink that meets international standards, it’s hard for us to make further achievements and fight for more resources.”
But 17-year-old Ng-shuen said he would keep on working hard and fighting for better resources for the sport.
Challenges in sport ... and life
When the judges asked 17-year-old backstroke expert Toto Wong Kwan-to about difficulties she’s faced, the Diocesan Girls’ School student knew that they weren’t just interested in the physical challenges related to sport. So the swimmer told judges about a dilemma she faced in her personal life.
“Last year my grandfather was very ill, and I was racing in the Division 1 Long Course Swimming Competition,” said Toto. “I debated whether or not to go see him, but I chose to finish my races first. My family and coaches had helped me reach this stage, and I couldn’t let them down. My grandfather’s condition made me stronger as I had to thrive against the odds.”
Toto said she would contribute to society by educating more young swimmers. “As a captain, my responsibility was to lead the school team and teach the swimmers how to swim better,” she explained. “I will take part in some charitable activities to share my skills and experiences with young swimmers. And after I graduate I’ll return to DGS to be a judge for inter-house swimming competitions.”
Dreams of Olympic gold
Another swimming star, Victoria Shanghai Academy’s Katii Tang Tsoi-lam, told interviewers that she hoped to compete for Hong Kong at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. When judge Noel Prentice, sports editor for South China Morning Post, asked Katii if that was a realistic dream, the 15-year-old didn’t hesitate to say yes, and that she always trains hard so she can make her dream come true.
“In July last year, I was 0.36 seconds behind the Olympic qualifying time [the B cut] in the 200m freestyle,” Katii said. “By November I had reached the B cut. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are still three years away, but I will keep perfecting my form and taking part in other tournaments to gain more experience. I’m more than prepared to go to the Olympics and achieve great results.”
Judge Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, who is also Hong Kong’s Olympic chief, said this year’s candidates show a higher standard of achievements and bravery.
“They have demonstrated a genuine interest in sport development, especially when it comes to the investment in their sports,” he said. “I was inspired by how they tried to resolve problems.”
The Student of the Year Awards are organised by Young Post in conjunction with the South China Morning Post and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey club with support from the Education Bureau.