Hong Kong’s top student athletes were left star-struck as they got up close and personal with two of the city’s elite sportswomen.
The 898 winners of this year’s A. S. Watson Group Hong Kong Student Sports Awards (HKSSA) were all smiles as they posed with their certificates next to Hong Kong high jump record-holder (and Instagram queen) Cecilia Yeung Man-wai and swimming sensation Yvette Kong Man-yi at Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Sunday morning.
“It’s amazing to be able to listen to these pros give us advice,” said Vincent Suen Wai-cheong, 19, from Wah Yan College, Kowloon. “It’s the first time I’ve won this award and I’m delighted,” said the Division One inter-school swimmer. With an impressive 50-metre freestyle personal best of 23.47 seconds, Vincent hopes to represent Hong Kong at the 2018 Asian Games.
Record-breaker Vincent Suen will double in freestyle and butterfly at the 2016 Inter-school Swimming Competition
Standing right next to him was one of his role models, Kong, who was part of the Hong Kong swimming team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was quick to offer tips to Vincent who, like many of the award-winners, had focused on his studies in recent weeks. “You’ve just finished the DSEs, so take a break, recover, and slowly get back into [swimming],” she said.
Kong recalled the difficulties she faced in trying to achieve her Olympic dream. “I had my first chance at the age of 15, but I was one second off the qualifying time. Four years later for the London Olympics, I was 0.1 seconds off. I thought about retiring, but I loved swimming too much,” she explained, adding that true lovers of their sport should put in 10,000 per cent during training.
Yeung – a part-time model who won the HKSSA in 2009 and 2010 – brought up the age-old dilemma of juggling studies with sports. “They’re students, but also athletes. These are two big responsibilities, but they’ll be fine so long as they manage their time properly … there just won’t be time to shop with friends or play video games,” she joked. “When I was a student, my week was four days of training, three days of studying. It was train, study, train, study ... repeat,” she added.
The 23-year-old showed that hard work does pay off after she won gold at the Asian Athletics Grand Prix in Taipei earlier this year. “A lot of young Hong Kong stars have won these awards before, but don’t stop there – if anything, you have to work harder,” said Yeung, who smashed her own local record with a mighty jump of 1.88 metres in Taiwan.
Yeung, who has set her sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, emphasised the importance of planning ahead: “Devote more time on your sport than anyone else, then set some targets. Once you reach your objective, make another. Keep trying to exceed those targets.”
The awards – given to primary, secondary, and special school students – were divided into different categories, including track and field, swimming, basketball, soccer, volleyball, table tennis, badminton, and handball.
Each winner received HK$500, and will have the opportunity to take part in a leadership workshop and join a sports exchange tour to China this summer.