Knowing it was their last chance to fight for their school, Fukien Secondary School (Kwun Tong)’s top badminton players were ready to give it their all at the All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Badminton Tournament last month.
Their tenacity paid off; the pairs in both the boys’ and girls’ doubles made it to the finals, with surprising victories over the defending champions, La Salle College, and Heep Yunn School respectively, in the semi-finals.
The Fukien (FSSKT) players eventually came out on top, taking gold in both the boys’ and girls’ doubles events, beating ELCHK Lutheran Secndary School and Diocesan Girls’ School respectively. The win was especially emotional for 17-year-olds Toby Yeung King-lam and Cara Ng Tsz-ching, who had just played the most intense match of their sporting careers.
As the two burst into happy tears, other FSSKT students in the audience flocked to the court to put their arms around the duo.
The Form Six students said they hadn’t been thinking about winning, only about doing their best and enjoying spending time together as a team.
Given the bond between the two girls, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had been badminton partners for years. But the pair have only been playing together for the past two months, and it took a lot of hard work to achieve any sort of bond.
“We didn’t click with each other at the beginning and it was quite frustrating,” admitted Cara.
But as they spent more time training together, their strengths and weaknesses became clear. From there, it was easier for the pair to help each other, and devise strategies that played to each of their abilities.
“My actions are more swift, so I normally take up the hits near the net, while Cara is a better at defence, and she has a more consistent performance,” said Toby.
Don’t be fooled by the small court; badminton is a physically demanding sport, and having a partner does not make it any less challenging. Cara said staying physically fit was the toughest part of the sport. In fact, she almost had to give it up entirely three years ago; she was ill for a long period of time and doctors said she wasn’t physically or mentally well enough to play.
When she finally recovered, she feared she would never get back to her previous level. But her coach and teammates refused to give up on her.
“Without their help and support, I would not be standing here today,” said Cara.
Cara and Toby’s fellow FSSKT students Lau Sin-hei and Tong Kin-shun also made history at this year’s Jing Ying tournament when they came top in the boys’ doubles.
Sin-hei, 18, had been a singles player for years before pairing with Kin-shun last year at another inter-school competition. Their chemistry together helped their performances to soar. Although they knew last month’s game was their last chance to make their school proud, the pair didn’t allow their nerves to affect their performance. They’d already learned from previous matches that it’s better to focus on the match itself, rather than the outcome, because; “When you are too fixated on the result, you will miss the joy of playing badminton, and lose the game,” said Sin-hei.
The Form Six students added that their victory only came after countless failed attempts, and that success doesn’t happen overnight.
“If you never try, you will never succeed,” said Kin-shun. “It’s okay to fail; just learn from your mistakes.”