With one gold, two silvers and three bronzes, Hong Kong enjoyed its best-ever medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. With most of us still caught up in the Olympic medal fever brought about by our talented local athletes, it’s worth delving deeper into the journeys members of Team Hong Kong have taken to become world-class athletes. Have you considered, for instance, that many of these journeys began right here in Hong Kong’s local communities? In this Channel 823 story, we invited three current and retired elite Team Hong Kong athletes, Ken Cheng, Angie Wong and Lau Shiu-yue, to share with us the starting points of their roads to becoming professional athletes.
Ken Cheng is a former member of the Hong Kong Cycling Team and is an expert in mountain biking who cycles across mountains and even countries with his bike. Who would ever think that he developed his superb cycling skills on the streets of Ma On Shan? When Ken was still a student, he took a part-time delivery job to earn money to buy his first mountain bike. The part-time experience not only allowed him to earn enough money to buy the bike, but also boosted his cycling skills in just a few months. He laughed and said, “Back in those days, I could even cycle down the stairs without spilling the drinks in the deliveries!”
Not only was Ma On Shan the first “training ground” for Ken, but the neighbourhood was also where he met two important people in his cycling life in a neighbourhood bike shop. The first was the shop owner, who hired Ken as a part-time staff member and provided him free cycling trainings. The other was Ken's trainer Man Wai-chung, who nominated the talented cyclist to join the Hong Kong Cycling Team, making him a full-time professional athlete.
Although Ken has retired from the Hong Kong Cycling Team, his passion for the sport has not faded. He still travels around the city with his bike, and he especially values bike-friendly facilities. “I live in Shatin and often visit Wo Che Plaza to get my favourite bubble tea, as it is convenient for me to park my bike there,” said the cycling enthusiast.
Having grown up in Tin Hau, Angie Wong, a former member of the Hong Kong Roller Skating Team, is an authentic “Tin Hau lady”. She has been roller skating since she first tried the sport in Victoria Park one day after school. Even after she joined Team Hong Kong, she still went to Victoria Park to train. She was such a frequent visitor of the park that even the staff in a restaurant nearby could recognise her and would offer her extra food for free as encouragement.
As the first runner-up in China National Artistic Roller Skating Championships and China National Speed Skating Championships, Angie is committed to promoting all roller skating disciplines. In addition to teaching students, she also organises friendly competitions with roller skating associations of other districts. “Only if roller skating becomes more popular can we receive more support. I hope that in the near future, when people mention roller skating, they can think of venues other than Victoria Park where they can train and compete,” she said.
People often say that school inspires and empowers young people to find their way. Rising swimming star Lau Shiu-yue, who broke Hong Kong’s record in the men’s 200-metre backstroke early this year, can attest to that. Lau, who was on his high school’s swimming team, was once inspired by an older teammate who insisted on competing at a swim meet even though he felt ill. The incident fuelled Lau’s aspiration to become a swimmer, and he has been persistent over the years. Despite dislocating his left shoulder three times, he persevered and trained religiously before finally setting the new Hong Kong backstroke record, beating the old one that was set 20 years ago. His accomplishments have also made him a role model, and he uses his first-hand experiences to inspire and encourage youngsters around him to join a swimming team.
While Lau Shiu-yue is busy preparing for various international swimming competitions, the elite swimmer recharges by hanging out with his girlfriend at T.O.P This is Our Place. “I’m glad there’s such a cool shopping mall near my home so I can spend quality time with my love,” he said with a smile.
When talking about how prosperous this year has been to Team Hong Kong, Lau said excitedly, “It’s very touching to see Hong Kong citizens unite together to cheer for local athletes. I believe that this is the magic of sports! I will keep working hard so that one day I can be the one Hongkongers cheer for.”
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