At the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Interschool Cross Country Competition (Division One) held at the Hong Kong Golf Club on Monday, last year’s overall champions Diocesan Boys’ School and Heep Yunn School successfully defended their throne to fulfill an eight-year and three-year winning streak, respectively.
The competition featured over 600 runners from 24 schools in the highest division. Contestants in Boys’ Grade A and B had to conquer three laps along a designated route around the golf course in Fanling, which is approximately 6 kilometres, while participants in other categories would run two laps of around 4 km.
The ranking of teams depended on individual athletes' finishing position, as the first six to cross the finish line would earn points for the team. Hence, schools could not simply rely on one or two star runners; they had to ensure each member of the team would bring their A game.
Regular champion DBS came out on top in Boys' Grade A and B, but they lost to West Island School in Grade C and had to settle for second place. It meant the school could not achieve a "Grand Slam" victory by dominating all three grades, like they did last year. Still, the school's top runner Michael Tse Chun-yin, who seized first place in Boys' Grade A, believed his teammates had put in their greatest effort, especially athletes "on loan" from other sports teams.
"We don’t have many runners this year, so we had to borrow athletes from other sports teams, such as swimming and basketball. I think they did a really good job, so I don't feel sad just because we didn't get a Grand Slam," 18-year-old Michael told the media.
Although Diocesan Boys' School did not achieve a "Grand Slam" victory like last year, Michael Tse Chun-yin was still satisfied with the team's performance.
Photo: SCMP / Kelly Ho
Reflecting on his own performance, the Form Six student said he was pleased with his speedy recovery from last Sunday's marathon race, in which he broke the Hong Kong Men's Junior 10 km record. He also called winning an individual gold medal, as well as the team champion award, a "regretless" conclusion to his interschool cross country career.
"It's my last year representing DBS, and being able to attain such results leaves me with no regrets," he said.
Michael noted that he was the luckier ones who got to take part in the competition as planned, since many interschool events had been cancelled by the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation (HKSSF) recently due to safety concerns caused by the ongoing anti-government protests. He hopes the organisers will recognise the importance of school-level competitions to secondary student-athletes, and urged them to try their best to hold the competitions as scheduled and reschedule the cancelled races.
Meanwhile, in the Girls' category, Heep Yunn strived to repeat their success from last year. They won the Grade A category, but only finished in third place in Grade B and second place in Grade C. Still, their overall ranking surpassed their main rivals West Island School and Diocesan Girls' School, thus keeping the overall champion's title they have held since 2016.
Kylie Poon Yiu-man, team captain of Heep Yunn, admitted it was a challenging task to fulfil the school's winning streak. Like DBS, Heep Yunn only has a few cross country runners. The Form Five captain herself is not a runner either; she is from the school's basketball team, which lent several players to the cross country team this year. Surprisingly, these "borrowed" athletes pulled off a remarkable performance, especially swimmer Ma Wing-yu, who was the first runner-up in Grade B.
Heep Yunn School's team captain Kylie Poon Yiu-man debriefed her teammates after the race.
Photo: SCMP / Kelly Ho
"It's so surprising that Ma Wing-yu came in second place in Grade B, she just finished her own interschool competition last Friday. A lot of athletes did unexpectedly well, which was why we could win the overall title," Kylie said.
Secondary cross country athletes will meet again in December at the All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Cross Country Tournament, where runners from schools across the city will take part.