The Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI)’s third annual Open Day took place over the weekend (January 27 - 28). More than 4,500 people from the public participated in fun sporting activities, and were given the chance to meet some of Hong Kong’s biggest sports stars.
“It’s a win for everybody,” Trisha Leahy, the chief executive of HKSI, told Young Post. “We want to improve Hong Kong’s sporting culture, and the Open Day allows the athletes to get more exposure, lets kids try new sports and meet their sporting idols, while showing parents that it is possible for their kids to have careers as athletes, or at the very least, benefit from participating in sports.”
The elite athletes present included Lee Ka-man (rowing), Angus Ng (badminton), Kenneth To (swimming), Kevin Wong (tennis), Wong Chun-ting (table tennis) and Tong Chi-yung (Table Tennis for Athletes with Disabilities), among many others.
Some of Hong Kong’s best athletes decline to pursue sporting careers because their parents don’t want them to sacrifice their studying time, but according to a statement from HKSI, the government is working to “promote initiatives of providing integrated education opportunities for young athletes, enabling them to pursue a sports career without sacrificing their academic development”.
The first day of the weekend was focused on finding Hong Kong’s next wave of sporting talent. Student athletes from 23 different schools and educational organisations toured HKSI’s premier sporting facilities in Sha Tin. They also participated in meet and greet sessions with the athletes and took a series of fitness tests to see if they were suited for a specific sport.
The second day was less focused on finding elite athletes, and more on educating the public about a professional athlete's lifestyle, and allowing young children to try different sports.
Young Post spoke to some athletes about what the day meant to them and to the city. “I hope I can set a good example and inspire more young athletes,” said 23-year-old badminton star Angus Ng, who is currently ranked the sixth best player in the world. “I try to show them that it’s possible to have a great career as a full-time athlete, but I also remind them that it’s not easy and the only road to success is to be very hard working.”
Wong Chun-ting, the number six ranked table tennis player in the world, said he hopes that he can help inspire Hong Kong’s future stars. “The key of [the Open Day] was for us athletes to share our experiences, and show young people what it takes to become great,” said the 26-year-old. “We also want to educate parents and young people that sports are good for physical and mental development. It’s great that Hong Kong people are finally starting to understand why sports are so great.”
Former Olympic rower Lee Ka-man said the Open Day was a great opportunity for kids to discover which sport they really love.
“If you want to be really good at a sport you have to train a lot and train hard, which means you have to really enjoy it,” she said. “But if you enjoy it, training doesn’t feel like work. You will be motivated by your love for the sport.”
It may still have a ways to go, but slowly and surely, Hong Kong is becoming a sporty city.