Fit for life
Gillian Chung Yan-tung looks in her element in a new advertisement for a sportswear brand in which she leaps gracefully over hurdles - and it's no wonder. One half of Canto-pop group Twins with Charlene Choi Cheuk-yin, Chung was a hurdler for her school, Kowloon True Light Middle School. She took up the sport because she was a lonely teenager at school.
'When I entered Form One, I didn't have many friends and after school, I would wander around the school premises alone because I didn't want to go home,' said Chung (above). 'Then one day, I bumped into the school athletic team during their practice, so I joined. My teacher reckoned I had the talent so I became a hurdler for my school.'
But it wasn't the easiest sport for the diminutive actress. 'Honestly, it was very tough, I didn't start off with the shortest 'C grade' hurdles, I hurdled with the standard 'A grade' hurdles from the beginning. And I had to practise every day,' she said.
All that training has paid off for the 26-year-old, whose roles in many action films, including The Twins Effect (2003) and House of Fury (2005), demand fitness and flexibility. She's also kept to her warm-up habit, which she learned as a hurdler. 'I love stretching, I do it in the car or when I'm waiting on set. It keeps my body flexible so I don't get hurt easily filming a movie,' she said.
In preparation for her new film - she plays a professional swimmer in The Fantastic Waterbabes, with Alex Fong Lik-sun and Stephen Fung Tak-lun - Chung lost 5kg. However, she's still self-conscious about how her athletic figure looks in a swimsuit. 'I used to run on track fields a lot, so I've built some very strong muscles along my thighs, which are quite difficult to get rid of. Sometimes, it gives that bulky look on screen which I don't really like.'
Working on so many separate projects has prompted rumours that the six-year Twins partnership between Chung and Choi may soon come to an end but Chung denies plans to split or any rift in their friendship.
'People may not see us together very often on screen but we do visit each other on set when we're filming different movies,' she said.