Unsung heroes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2012, 12:00am


Name Cheryl Cheung Wai-yin
School Institute of Vocational Education (Chai Wan)
Grade Year Two
Sport Athletics

Achievements Cheryl, 20, from Tin Shui Wan, is a long-distance runner with Alexander Athletic Club and the athletics team at IVE, where she is studying for a higher diploma in beauty and health.

She won both the women's youth 10km Sai Kung district race and 8km Ma On Shan Cup this year.

Cheryl was last year's overall champion in the ladies open category (age 18-34) in the Athletic Veterans of Hong Kong Adidas 5km series. She won two gold and two silver medals in the four races held at Tai Tam Reservoir, Bowen Road, Wan Chai Gap and South Bay.

She also won the women's youth and adult 2010 Wong Tai Sin District Kowloon Peak 7km race.

Soundbite 'In Form Two, I did quite well at athletics and my PE teacher asked me to run for the school team,' Cheryl says.

'Then, in Form Four, some runners invited me to join my current club. I started racing over 100m and 200m first, but my results weren't good. My coach kept increasing my distances; over five years I must have trained for every distance before settling on 10km and the half marathon.

'The club has few girl members, and even fewer running long-distance events, so I usually train with the boys. As my level matches those of the boys, my coach nicknamed me 'Man'.

'I'm not afraid to do tough training or races; I always push myself to run a personal best in every race. Since 2010, I've knocked more than four minutes off my 10,000m time.

'I ran in the Adidas 5km series in 2010 and came fifth overall. Last year I took part again and, as the four races were over the same courses, I knew what to expect. I focused my training on improving on parts of the courses where I didn't do well.

'I ran more on my toes along the beach part of the South Bay race. It saved energy and stopped painful lactic-acid build-up. I cut three minutes off my time.'

From her coach 'Cheryl sacrifices a lot travelling from her home in Tin Shui Wai to college and then home again for training,' says Alexander Chau, her coach at Alexander Athletic Club. 'Yet she's always improving and has a clearer idea about what to do in the sport.

'I hope one day she can break into Hong Kong's top-10 women's senior rankings over 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000m.'

Ambitions 'I was suffering from a fever during this year's Hong Kong marathon,' Cheryl says.

'My nose was running and I could hardly breath. I managed to finish only in the top 30 in the women's 18-34 age category. But next year I want to stay healthy and finish in the top five.'