Sprinter's dad urges support for talented youth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 April, 2007, 12:00am

The parents of a top athlete have called for more families to support their children who show potential in sport.

Tang Shu-kin, father of sprinter Tang Yik-chun, encouraged parents to support their children as second chances rarely came along.

'I know many parents prefer their children focusing more on studies to spending time on sports because they think it would lead to a better future, but I do not support this view,' said Tang, as his son prepares to embark on a 17-month stint in the United States Olympic training centre in Chula Vista, California.

'There is always plenty of time for studies as we are now talking about life-long learning in society, but serious sport training can only be done in a limited period of time. If you do not take the opportunity, it will pass by and it will be difficult to get a second chance.'

Tang and his wife, Ho Yim-sheung, said they have been supportive of Yik-chun, ever since the 20-year-old decided to pursue a career in sport.

'We only asked him to meet a reasonable standard in the school certificate examinations when he finished his secondary school a couple of years ago and then he could pursue his sporting dream,' said his mother.

And their son has not let them down.

Yik-chun started training full-time three years ago and quickly made his mark, winning a bronze medal in the men's 200 metres at the National Games in Nanjing in 2005. The talented runner, who now holds the 200m SAR record, will become the first athlete from Hong Kong to train at the US centre in California, thanks to the IOC's solidarity fund and a joint venture between the Hong Kong Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee.

He will leave for the US on Wednesday and he will undergo training with top American athletes in his build-up for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

'The Olympic Games is always a target for an athlete, but I do not think there is enough preparation time from now if I want to win a medal in Beijing,' said Yik-chun. 'But the training stint in the US will definitely provide a good learning opportunity for a young runner from Hong Kong like me as I will be able to meet many of the world's top sprinters and compete against them.'

The intensive training will take up five days a week and he will travel to different parts of the US for competitions during weekends.

He said he wanted to thank his parents for the support he had received over the years.

'I am very lucky that my parents have supported my sporting career. Had it not been for their whole-hearted backing, I would not have been able to achieve many good results on the international stage so that I could have this chance to train in the US,' he said.

Yik-chun won a gold medal in the 60m at the first Asian Indoor Games in Bangkok in 2005.