Star runner to join Ma 'army'
TEENAGE star woman middle-distance runner Maggie Chan Man-yee has been invited by Chinese wonder coach Ma Junren to join his training camp in Liaoning, China.
The Heep Yunn School student has been singled out by Ma to train with his fabled ''army'' after her eye-catching runs at the Asian Championships in Manila, the Philippines.
Chan had one of the toughest schedule in the four-day meeting, having to take part in the 800 m, 1,500 m and 3,000 m races.
She caught Ma's attention although she only managed to beat her personal best in the 3,000 m to set a new Hong Kong junior record of nine min and 52.67 sec.
The world renowned Chinese coach was so impressed by the 18-year-old Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) scholarship runner he invited her to join his training camp ''any time''.
''I approached the Chinese contingent on an autograph hunt after the races and when I saw Ma Junren I asked to take a picture with him. Surprisingly he recognised me and said he was impressed with my performances,'' said Chan.
''But it really shocked me when he asked whether I would be interested in going to Liaoning to train under him.'' Chan intends to take up the offer during Christmas holiday break from school and again over the Chinese New Year, both stints over a two-week period. She added she will return to Liaoning whenever she has a long holiday.
HKSI head athletics coach Garry Brown was delighted that Chan was awarded this opportunity to train with some of the world's best woman distance runners like Wang Junxia, Qu Yunxia, Zhang Lirong, Ma Liyan and Lu Yi.
Wang is the world record holder in the 3,000 m and 10,000 m events while Qu holds the world mark for the 1,500 m distance.
An ecstatic Brown said: ''Ma told Maggie she has a lot of natural potential and she could be Ma's army girl number six.
''I think it is great for her and for Hong Kong that she was recognised as having potential by a world class coach. Training under Ma would be a wonderful opportunity for Maggie.'' It would be interesting to see how Chan can adapt to Ma's revolutionary training methods which include strange diet such as drinking fresh turtle blood.
Ma requires his charges to run ultra-long distances every day and the turtle blood is said to help them restore their energy quickly.
Chinese runner Wang Yuen, one of Ma's charges who was here for the East Asian Junior Championships four weeks ago, said the turtle blood is ''not very tasty.''