When most student athletes talk about reaching new heights, they’re speaking figuratively. But when Timothy Lam Hin-chak says it, he means it – literally.
The 15-year-old student from La Salle College is a master of the high jump. Timothy has been competing in athletics for seven years. “I joined the 100m race on Sports Day when I was in Primary Three and won my first gold medal in my life,” he recalls. “Afterwards, the PE teacher recruited me to join the athletics team.”
For the past two years, Timothy has been setting the bar higher and higher – again, literally – by competing in high jump. “The high jump is always challenging for me. Every attempt feels like a battle between me and gravity,” he explains. “Nevertheless, the feeling of success from the high jump is always higher than other events in track and field.”
Timothy faces the challenge head on. “Practise makes perfect. I think the biggest challenge I have had to face is perseverance to practise,” he admits. “Going for practice after a harsh, tiring school day is not easy. Therefore, the key to success is persevering and never giving up.”
But Timothy also finds humour in his sport. “One day after school, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the weather was great,” he says. “Right after I warmed up and headed to the high jump area, it started to rain heavily. The high jump mat was like a sponge, after sucking up all the rain water. It was like diving into a pool when I fell on the mat.”
All of Timothy’s rain-or-shine practice sessions paid off at the inter-school high jump competition in February. He cleared 1.96 metres, breaking his own record and qualifying for the National Athletics Championships Competition 2016.
“I think my greatest threat in the event was myself,” he admits. “To be honest, I did not expect that I could jump 1.96m, which is 5cm higher than my previous personal best.”
But Timothy’s teammates were having none of it. “When I was going to make an attempt at 1.96m, all of the Lasallians on stage started shouting ‘Be calm and do your best, that’s all La Salle requests’. The cheering inspired me and calmed me down,” he says. “When you know you have tonnes of brothers who’ve got your back, there’s no reason to have any pressure. Just be calm and do your best.”
And in keeping with the spirit of his sport, Timothy now has loftier goals to aim for. “My ultimate goal in high jump is to break the junior and Hong Kong records, which is 2.11m and 2.16m, respectively,” he says.
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
It has to be Dragon Ball Z. In the movie, Goku is an extraordinary man, but he is not always the strongest. The stronger his opponents are, the stronger he will be. In this case, I think I have Goku’s characteristics. The higher the height, the more confident I am.
If you could have any superpower for 24 hours, what would you choose and how would you use it?
I would love to have the ability to teleport. When I finish practice, it’s usually around 6pm. I wish I could go back home instantly, so that I could have dinner with my parents and then study.
Ten years into the future, you are a famous athlete. What company would you sign on as spokesperson for, and what product would you promote?
Adidas. My first running shoes were adidas, and as a spokesperson for the company, I would like to promote the particular type of sneaker which helped kick-start my track and field career several years ago.