A handle on greatness

A handle on greatness

For all his successes, Hong Kong BMX sensation Steven Wong isn't sitting on his laurels


Steven Wong has won all the main BMX medals in Asia and has set his sights on the London Olympics.
Steven Wong has won all the main BMX medals in Asia and has set his sights on the London Olympics.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng
Steven Wong should have BMX as his middle name. The bike wizard has become one of Hong Kong's most successful athletes with dozens of titles under his belt. You wonder how he still finds space for his trophies. Gold medal at the East Asia Games, a gold at the National Games, gold at the first-ever Asian Games BMX competition last month in Guangzhou - you name it, Wong has won it.

Last year, the 22-year-old son of a Belgian mother and a Chinese restaurateur won the first-ever Bank of China Hong Kong Sports Stars Award. He was also named the Best of the Best Hong Kong Sports Stars.

Hasn't he had enough yet? Clearly not. This year, Wong bagged his fifth consecutive Asian BMX Championship title - and grabbed gold in Guangzhou.

Then again, he needs plenty of gold - and not just in medals.

Like professional golfers, BMX riders compete on their own, not in teams.

Wong needs the help of his support crew during international tournaments. He has to pay for his crew's airfares and hotel bills. Next year the bike sensation plans to take part in 22 international competitions. That will be pretty costly.

"I am paid as an elite athlete by the Hong Kong Sports Institute," he says. "But the main part of my salary comes from sponsors."

His outstanding performance in this emerging sport in Asia has attracted sponsors like Red Bull, Nike and Oakley.

Then there's this: Despite his talent, BMX riding is a dangerous business. Last year, a fall during his race cost him the gold medal at the National Games in Shandong . A loose chain was to blame.

He says he's not sure if it was an accident or the result of some tampering with his bike by a competitor.

He learned his lesson, though. "I'm a lot more cautious about my bike and equipment after that fall," he says. "I learned that to be a top biker, I must ensure that my bike and other equipment are in great condition. That's why I had a reserve bike for the Asian Games last month."

If you think the BMX legend no longer has butterflies in the stomach, think again. He still does.

"I am tense every time before I compete," he says. "But my philosophy is ... I tell myself there's no difference between a race in a local competition and a large-scale international tournament like the Asian Games. All I need to do is focus and pay attention to every detail on and off the track."

It has been almost eight years since Wong turned pro. He might have bagged all the top gold medals in Asia, but he has bigger goals on the horizon.

"My next target is the 2012 Olympic Games in London," he says. "To get a ticket for this multi-sport extravaganza, I need to perform well in all the 22 tournaments through next year, especially in the UCI BMX World Championships."

That should keep him pretty busy on the international racing circuit. But Wong says he also wants to spend more time in Hong Kong. "I have a passion to promote the sport in this city," he says. "Usually I spend less than a month in Hong Kong every year as I need to train in Europe. But next year, I hope to attend more promotional events and perhaps do some coaching while I'm here."

Kevin is a Young Post intern



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