As Chloe Chan Pui-kei made the final stride across the finish line, the result was settled. The 18-year-old had given her all, but she wasn’t able to keep the inter-school Girls’ 200-metre title she’d been holding onto for two years. She lost out again in the 100-metre race, to the same rival: fellow national team runner Leung Wing-hei, who was left amazed by her unexpected victory over the famed Good Hope School sprinter.
The result was less surprising to Chloe. She had already played out this scenario in her head the night before the Kowloon and Hong Kong Island Inter-school Athletics Competition (Division 1) finals last Friday. She’d known that cutting back on her training hours to study for the HKDSEs would affect her performance.
But when this fear became a reality, the disappointment wasn’t quite so easy to shrug off. After all, it was her last chance to pull on the bright yellow Good Hope School vest and compete at one of the most high-profile school sporting events of the year.
Speaking to Young Post after the race, the Form Six student explained that her dismay stemmed not from losing the two golds, but from failing to live up to the expectations of her schoolmates, who had pinned their hopes on her boosting their school’s ranking. “I know a lot of students from lower forms look up to me as their role model, so I really want to match their expectations. I hope my performance today won’t affect their opinion of me too much,” said Chloe.
Still, every cloud has a silver lining. After her defeat in the individual events, Chloe got even with a gold medal in the Girls’ A Grade 4x100m relay, in which her team set a record. Reflecting on the day’s achievements – one gold, two silvers and a fresh record – Chloe grinned at what she called a “perfectly flawed” ending to her inter-school career.
“It’s like going back to where I began,” Chloe said. “In my first inter-school competition, I also got one gold and two silvers. I guess you could call this coming full circle.”
She went on to explain how the competition has played a key role in her running career, pushing her to pursue athletics at a professional level, and serving as an annual review of her performance.
“After my second inter-school competition, I realised how much I loved the sport and I knew I wanted to do it for a really long time,” she said. “Then I started setting goals for myself, and began to look beyond the school-level championships.”
Chloe reached the peak of her career in 2016, when she swept golds in all the short-distance events at the Division 1 competition with record-breaking times. Her success earned her the chance to become a national team member, and propelled her into the international running arena.
Since then, Chloe has become one of the most decorated junior runners in Hong Kong, including winning a bronze medal at the 18th Asian Junior Athletics Championships last June, and representing the city at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, last August. She also achieved a finishing time less than one second behind the Hong Kong female 100 metres event record that was set 19 years ago.
Although she wasn’t able to recreate her 2016 success this year, Chloe has vowed to return stronger than ever.
“My goal is to return to my best form after taking a six-week break for the HKDSEs,” Chloe said. “Ultimately, my aim is to break the Hong Kong record. I hope that the end of my inter-school years marks the start of something new.”