Hong Kong’s Youth Taekwondo Competition 2017 Champion Estelle Tang has, since the age of nine, immersed herself in learning taekwondo. The black belt credits her father, a martial arts practitioner, for her dedication to the sport. However, it’s not just taekwondo that Estelle, 17, is talented at. When she began looking for new challenges, Estelle realised that she was good at athletics – shotput in particular. Her new-found skills landed the French International School student first place in the HKSSF Inter-school Division 3 Shotput Competition that took place in February this year. Here’s what she had to say about her achievements to Young Post:
Thoughts on personal achievements
Winning gold medals in two sporting disciplines has earned Estelle a spot on both the Hong Kong taekwondo team and her school's shotput team, but that’s not what she thinks has affected her life the most.
“What really impacted my personal growth was being disqualified from the Hong Kong Open last year after I forgot to fill out one of the pages when signing up,” she says. “I know that sounds more like a setback, but I realised that the only thing that could hold me back [from achieving what I want] was myself. I love taekwondo, but I realised that missing out on one competition wouldn’t stop me from achieving my dream of making it to a professional level. Success, after all, is built on failure.
“For shot put, at the HKSSF competition this year, I threw to 7.76m and achieved first place, which resulted in me receiving an invitation to join the HK Jing Ying Tournament [an all-Hong Kong schools competition], which is a huge. I’m so grateful for the invitation.”
Her role model
One of the role models that Estelle looks up to is Oksana Chusovitina, who represents Uzbekistan in Artistic Gymnastics. “She’s already 41 but she’s still competing on a world-class level. She’s participated in seven Olympic Games, has won countless medals, and her career as an elite gymnast has spanned across more than a quarter of a century. I’d love to be in as great shape as her when I get to that age. Her amazing abilities, in what is arguably one of the most difficult sports, really shows me that you really can do anything no matter your age,” Estelle says.
Making plans for the future
It’s not just been about overcoming her own self-doubts and her opponents in her sports either – Estelle has had to convince her parents that she is able to excel in sports.
“It was hard [convincing my parents] that making it big in taekwondo was my life’s goal. They’re realistic people, and just want for me to live a happy, comfortable life, which I respect – but I’m very happy that they are willing now to let me compete in taekwondo,” she says.
Estelle’s ultimate dream is to compete in the Olympics as an athlete. Already, she is making plans to balance her studies and the work it’ll take to work towards her goals. “I’d love to compete in the Olympics and in South Korea, because it’s where taekwondo originates,” she explains. “I’m only making a mark in poomsae [specific movements for attack and defense] right now, but I’ll have time to train in Olympic-style sparring in the future. I’ll be going to university in Canada later this year, so hopefully the extra freedom I’ll have will give me more time to train and compete. When I can’t compete anymore, I’d like to become a mentor to aspiring taekwondo students.”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Masterpiece by Jessie J.
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
A cheetah because it’s powerful and swift. Speed is really important in sparring.
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
I like to have fruit because it’s sweet and light. Even if the event is in the morning, I don’t feel like eating too much because I’ll feel heavy and uncomfortable.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I would like to be a Lululemon ambassador. They do a lot to inspire the athletic community. I also care a lot for the environment so I would like to promote sustainable brands like theirs.