One of the biggest hurdles that student athletes in Hong Kong face is trying to balance their time between training and studying. Former Diocesan Boys’ School cross-country team captain Leo Chu Check-hei is proof that you can conquer both worlds.
Leo was one of the top achievers from DBS, obtaining an outstanding result of five 5**s in this year’s HKDSE. He had not expected this at all, particularly for his science-related electives. While working on past papers before the exams, the highest mark he ever got was a 5*.
“My school had predicted that I would only get three 5**s at most,” Leo told Young Post one week after the results were released in July.
Unlike many students who take extra classes at tutorial centres and sacrifice other activities, Leo’s trick to acing his public exams was to keep up with his love of running.
The 17-year-old would go for a morning jog at least three times a week during his study leave, which helped him maintain his physical form and to channel his stress into energy. Leo believes sitting in a chair all day is not an effective study method, and that it is more important to find ways to unwind.
“When I was jogging, I didn’t worry about my exams. I enjoyed sweating it out. After, I would have a shower and then start revising again,” he recalled.
Leo, who has been an endurance runner for almost a decade, said the greatest gift the sport has given him is self-confidence and self-discipline. While some think devoting hours to training is a burden, Leo says it is what pushed him to work twice as hard as his peers.
“I’m aware I have less time to study than everyone else because of training, but that sense of urgency motivated me to concentrate more during my revision, rather than wasting time playing on my phone,” he said.
Running has pushed Leo out of his comfort zone in other ways, too – for example, when he was appointed the captain of his school’s cross-country team, even though he was only in Form Four.
The shy captain said he felt tongue-tied when he had to deliver a speech and chant cheers in front of his schoolmates, but that he powered through and emerged as a charismatic leader.
Thanks to his results, Leo has been admitted to Chinese University to study medicine. He had been offered the chance to skip his first year entirely and study as a second-year student, but the future doctor turned down this option so he could continue competing in intervarsity level tournaments.
“I’m a bit worried about the time I’m allocating [to study and sport], but I’m hoping to at least compete in my first and second year,” said Leo. “After that, I won’t be chasing after records – running will simply be a hobby.”