16-year-old South Island School triathlete gets strength from Kelly Clarkson

16-year-old South Island School triathlete gets strength from Kelly Clarkson

Triathlete Yehudi Chan says that sometimes you have to push through the pain to stay in the competition


Yehudi counts on Kelly Clarkson's words to get him across the finish line.
Photo: Danny Chan

No one pretends that being a top athlete is easy. But for those with a competitive edge, it's all about overcoming obstacles and pushing through even the most difficult moments.

For triathlon competitor Yehudi Chan Ze-yu, sometimes this means doing whatever it takes just to cross the finish line.

"I remember in one competition, I was fighting off a really bad stitch on my way to the finish line," he said. "I was close to giving up but I kept going and finished the race. It was physically and mentally challenging just limping towards the finish line."

This determination to finish no matter what is why the 16-year-old student from South Island School is now a member of the Hong Kong Triathlon National Squad.

The Tan brothers train together and cross the finish line together 

And he's only been racing in triathlons for three years. "I started first in the Regional Squad, making my way up to the National Development Squad and finally the National Squad," he says.

But of course Yehudi didn't jump into the triply-demanding sport. "Getting into triathlon was a gradual process" he explains.

"I started swimming first at a young age. In primary school, I started cross-country running and found out that I was pretty good. Then there were these aquathons/biathlons with swimming and running, and I found myself enjoying and winning these.

"After primary school, I was disappointed that there was no Hong Kong Aquathon Squad, but I knew there was a triathlon squad so I thought, why not try that? It's just the same thing plus some cycling."

Hoping to get on the triathlon squad, Yehudi signed up for his first sprint triathlon - a race comprising a 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike ride and five-kilometre run.

Yehudi came 45th out of 35,000 10km runners in this year's Hong Kong Marathon.

"At first, I was daunted at the very prospect of finishing such a long distance race," he admits. "After I finished it, I felt a real sense of achievement because I know that not many people could have done what I had done in such a short amount of time."

He adds that people may not realise quite how much work is involved. "At my age, as a junior, I compete in 'sprint' distances. Despite them being sprints, they usually take an hour and a bit to complete."

When he's not racing with the national squad, Yehudi competes in marathons, like the recent Standard Chartered Marathon. He ran in the 10km race and finished in 37 minutes and 41 seconds. He was first in his run, and came sixth among the junior competitors, and in an impressive 45th place out of the 35,000 runners who competed.

Yehudi has his sights set on representing Hong Kong in the 2020 Olympics, but says for now he's always just looking forward to his next triathlon. "I get to combine three of my favourite sports in the form of one ultimate sport," he said.

Bench Notes

What song/movie title best describes you when you're playing your sport?
Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. This is what I sing to myself as the going gets tough at any point in a triathlon. It motivates me to take that next step closer to the finish line.

You can have any superpower you choose for 24 hours. What do you choose and how do you use this power?
The ability to manipulate time. That way, I could make it so that my 24 hours with a superpower would never end, which would help me with training and school life.

If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
Everything. Because I would never be in a situation where I didn't have what I needed.

10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign on with as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
Adidas, their sport products are awesome. I would promote their running shoes because I've been running in Adidas shoes for quite some time and I just love them.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Fighting for the finish line


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