Canto star chases gold

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 12:00am

Multi-talented student Alex Fong Lik-sun finally arrived in Daegu, South Korea on Saturday to compete in swimming events at the 2003 Universiade.

The 100-metre backstroke Hong Kong record holder, also famous as a television and singing personality, has been given special treatment by SAR university sports officials who regard him as one of their best athletes.

Fong, who races in the 50m backstroke heats today, told Young Post his hectic show business schedule meant he was unable to travel with the rest of the squad to Korea last Tuesday.

'I would have liked to be present at the opening ceremony on Thursday night, but I had already committed [myself] to making a television commercial for a restaurant chain in Hong Kong,' said the 23-year-old.

'It took three days to shoot, and on the last day I was on the set for 20 hours. I had to fly out the next day and we didn't finish until 4am!'

The government's favourite icon for its 'keep fit and healthy' television campaign said he will only stay with the squad till Friday as he has to return home to do a photography shoot for his new CD, scheduled for release next month.

On Thursday, Fong will race in the 100m backstroke, and later join teammates Kenneth Doo Kin-lun, Chan Yiu-bun and Szeto Shui-ki in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

The University of Hong Kong business and accounting student said the secret to juggling his many responsibilities was time management.

'You must be prepared to make sacrifices if you want to achieve your goals. For me I have pretty much given up any leisure time. I divide my time between swimming, show business and studying for my bachelor's degree. It's not impossible to do - it just takes some focus,' he said.

The Year Three student, who finishes his degree course in January, said the competitive sports training has taught him valuable lessons in how to get ahead in life.

'I've been swimming for 14 years now, and I've been doing showbiz work for three years. I wouldn't say any one person taught me any important lessons, but I know I've learnt a lot from swimming,' Fong said.

'I've become less serious about competing recently because of my showbiz work, and studies. But it's a hard habit to break. I'm still [very fit], but I'm not as mentally focused as I used to be. I enjoy the competitive side of it, and I'm still able to make the qualifying times for these big competitions. Everyone needs to exercise - so it suits me.'

This positive and healthy attitude also suits the Hong Kong government's promotion of 'exercise for all' and cleaner living post-Sars.

'They sent me to Malaysia two weeks ago to do promotional work for the Hong Kong Tourism Board's We Love Hong Kong campaign. I gave some press conferences and gave a few interviews with the local media. I have a few fans there,' Fong said.

Although he doesn't expect to be recognised in South Korea or Japan where Canto-pop is not big, Fong plans to widen his appeal to teenage audiences around Asia next year.

'I'll be a full-time showbiz personality, so the plan is to do some gigs on the mainland, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand. My next album will be in Mandarin, and I will spend some time in Beijing to promote it,' he explained.