Team captains require serious mental toughness; the ability to motivate teammates in the face of adversity, to lead by example, but most of all, to look at the bigger picture.
This year's SOTY - Sportsperson, 17-year-old badminton ace Katie Yeung Sum-yee, has all of the above, and her mature and professional outlook quickly won the judges over. "I just said what I thought," said the Heep Yunn School Form Six student. "The atmosphere was relaxed so I shared what I learned and how I wanted to make my mark in the sport."
Katie has already achieved stunning success in her young career so far, captaining her school team at various inter-school badminton competitions and representing Hong Kong on the international stage. She is ranked 40th in the world junior women's singles category and is looking to claw her way up the leader board. She is currently competing in the 2017 Asia Junior Championships in Indonesia and, to top it all off, she successfully completed her DSEs earlier this year.
Despite these personal accolades, our sportsperson of the year feels there is room for improvement. "I didn't think I'd win, but now that I have, it's inspired me to help the sport develop. I feel a bit more responsibility and I want to get even better results to spread the spirit of the sport to more Hongkongers," said Katie, who is this year's Jing Ying interschool individual and women's doubles champion.
Katie's SOTY journey differs from those who won in other categories. She made sure to get the balance right in highlighting her personal achievements, what could be done to improve her sport, and how to inspire those around her. "Hong Kong's badminton team is doing well at international competitions. This success helps young people, like me, know that it is possible to do well internationally," said Katie.
While she acknowledges the new ground that local badminton heroes such as Angus Ng Ka-long have made, Katie prefers to focus on mentality over the achievements of specific athletes. "I don't really have an idol. I just try to become stronger, and to have the desire to beat someone better than me. It's about overcoming hurdles and always improving," she said.
The often cool-as-ice Katie felt some jitters before the SOTY interview due to her language abilities. "I was a bit nervous because I wasn't sure I could express myself fully in English," she revealed.
Fortunately, with practise and the aid of translators, Katie did enough to secure the win. "When my family found out I won, they told all my relatives. It was a really memorable experience to share with the people closest to me," said Katie, who was joined by her father at the prize ceremony.
She credits the SOTY process for helping improve her confidence when facing similar situations in the future. "It will help me handle difficult questions, like when I go to university. I've learned how to handle interviews better," Katie said.
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For those who want to follow in Katie's footsteps and compete for next year's SOTY - Sportsperson, she insisted it is about how the individual shows their qualities.
"You have to present your will and desire to [the judges] - how long you have persevered for and how much you want to reach your dreams," she said, adding that it is important to also keep things simple. "You don't have to over think things or worry about how to be unique. Everyone is already unique - just present yourself and your qualities."
The recently-turned full-time athlete has put her studies on hold to chase her dreams.
"My goal is to get good results on the international stage. I want to represent Hong Kong in Asian junior competitions; to get better results than last year, or even win a medal," she revealed.
Having taken the sports path, Katie doesn't want to rue any missed chances - especially after coming up short in the Yonex Dutch Junior 2017 in Holland earlier this year.
"It was a great experience to compete with different players from around the world, but I was not satisfied with my performance at all. I hope I can perform better in future competitions," said Katie, referring to a junior competition held in Hong Kong later this summer.
Congratulations to Katie, this year's SOTY - Sportsperson winner. Thoroughly deserved!