When he was eight years old, Angus Ng Ka-long was at a crossroads: should he stick with table tennis, or focus on badminton? “I realised I was more interested in badminton, and to improve in it, I stopped playing table tennis,” he told Young Post.
And what an important decision it was. Now 22, Ng is currently world number 10 in the badminton rankings after a blistering end to 2016, when he made history becoming the first local player to win the men’s singles title at the Hong Kong Open.
“It was my proudest moment because I won in my home country. It was a competition I watched every year and wanted to participate in since I was a young boy,” he said.
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The win capped off the most significant year in Ng’s career so far. “Last year was my most meaningful year to date, because I experienced a lot of firsts in my badminton career, like playing at the Rio Olympics and representing Hong Kong in the Thomas Cup [a team championship where the top three players of each country participate in],” he explained.
And while he reached the round of 16 of the summer Olympics in Rio – an unimaginable feat for most of us – Ng was left very disappointed. “I was full of regret after Brazil last year,” he says, adding that he hopes future tournaments will wash away any painful memories.
In his short career, Ng has already beaten two of the sport’s most respected players: legendary two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, and reigning Olympic champion Chen Long. The next big target?
“My ultimate goal is to win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I would say I have achieved my childhood dream if I do,” said Ng. “The best would be gold, of course, but I would be equally happy with a silver or bronze – it’s the Olympics, after all!”
Ng is quick to point out that even if he achieves this dream, he will keep working towards further goals. It’s a trait he learned from his idol, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Regardless of whether his team is leading or falling behind, he never gives up,” says Ng. “Even though he’s the best footballer in the world, he never slacks off and spends so much time in training.”
When asked why his role model is a football star and not a badminton player, Ng’s reasoning is simple: “As I grew up, these players have gradually become potential competitors or rivals. Since I may be up against them in future competitions, I have to look at them less as idols.”
As we approach the middle of 2017, Ng’s face is all over the newspapers and social media, but he says he’s not afraid of the extra attention. “Of course, the pressure is higher because people have higher expectations of me,” he says. “My parents really care about me and my results, but the highest pressure comes from myself – I’m pretty self-demanding.”
To young people also feeling the pressure or struggling to fulfil their big aspirations, Ng had this golden piece of advice: “You have to use hard work and sincerity to move your parents, because if you simply tell them using words, they might not be sure about letting you risk it all. If you show them how hard-working you are – that you’d sacrifice everything to pursue your dream – they will have confidence in you.”