Making their mark
ATHLETES LOVE to break records, especially locally.
Beating the previous Hong Kong best is an important motivating factor for our elite sportsmen and women, says an expert.
World championships and major titles are rarely won by representatives of the SAR. Those pioneers can be counted on one hand.
But one step at a time, as they say.
'Breaking a record is a measure of progress,' said Dr Lee Hing-chu, sports psychologist at the Hong Kong Sports Development Board.
'Realistic, reachable goals are a good first step. Success can encourage athletes to increase the difficulty of their targets and stay motivated.'
So there is nothing wrong with aiming to be the best in Hong Kong, and the latest batch of SAR swimmers have been doing just that.
Members of the current squad hold 23 out of 39 Hong Kong records.
At the Asian Games in South Korea last week, Chan Wing-suet and Wong Hiu-nam added their names to the list with speedy efforts in the women's 200-metre butterfly and the 200m breaststroke, respectively.
In all, the SAR squad set new records in seven categories.
Sherry Tsai Hiu-wai improved her own record with a time of 2 minutes 18.60 seconds in the 200m backstroke and was a member of the relay teams that stamped new marks in the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle.
Mark Kwok Kin-ming, Kenneth Doo Kin-lun, Szeto Shui-ki and Fu Wing deserve special mention for their efforts as they broke the men's 4x100m freestyle relay record set more than 10 years ago at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Of the present crop, backstroke ace Tsai (four individual and two relay) and Kwok (five individual and three relay) now boast the most records.
Like one of his film characters, singer-actor Alex Fong Lik-sun can say he is truly a 'water demon' as he has three individual records - in the 100m and 200m backstroke and the 400m individual medley.
Fong was also on last week's 4x100m medley relay team in Busan, where they rewrote their record achieved at last year's East Asian Games in Osaka.
Faster, faster is the mental mantra of track events, too.
Chiang Wai-hung of the SAR athletics squad became the fastest man in Hong Kong history when he ran the 100m in 10.37 seconds two years ago. Wan Kin-yee in 1999 equalled the women's 100m record of 11.73 seconds set by Chan Sau-ying in 1994. But those times are merely a jog in the park compared to the new world record of 9.78 seconds set by American Tim Montgomery in Paris recently.
However, when it comes to phenomenal record breakers, there is no one quite like Australian swimming star Ian Thorpe who is a world-record holder in an incredible 15 events.
The Guardian recently wrote that his attitude to competition was deceptively simple: try and swim faster every time, keep fresh by entering as many events as possible, and endeavour to get every aspect of a race right - the start, the turns, the place where you accelerate, the finish.
So, just as Record Breakers television presenter Roy Castle used to sing: 'If you want to be the best and better than the rest - dedication is what you need.'