Police training gives Tsang a head start
In true Hong Kong fashion, training begins and ends with rice. That is, a 10kg bag of unopened rice stuffed into a back-pack and loaded onto the shoulders of Tom Tsang Chiu-tong as she and her partner, Barry Smith, go for their weekly training sessions.
'We bring bags of rice because it moulds to the back and isn't lumpy, but then we add water and we train with it once a week,' said Tsang, a senior inspector with the Hong Kong Police.
Tsang will compete in her first RacingThePlanet event in Namibia with Smith, a police superintendent for the Hong Kong government. When Smith first proposed the idea a year ago, Tsang's reaction was one of disbelief. Not because she didn't think she could do the challenge, but because a long time ago it had been Tsang who wanted to hike and run and now the tables were turned.
Tsang, who has been in the police force for 13 years, saw Smith's determination and so she agreed, signing up for the 250-km desert stage race. They began training together and about five months ago, strapped on their rice-filled packs and started hiking. After a short-lived career as a secondary teacher, Tsang decided she wanted to be a police officer aged 25. Passing her entrance examinations required a basic level of fitness so Tsang began to run.
'At the very beginning it was difficult, but I think it's because before I joined I wanted to make sure I had a top fitness level,' Tsang said. 'I didn't want to just pass. I wanted to pass the test with top marks and so I trained hard for the physical tests. I expected myself to be very good and so it was difficult.'
Tsang has continued to run, taking part in hill races as well as excelling in some of the Hong Kong Police's organised races. Now a senior inspector, Tsang works at the police college, training up inspectors and working on leadership aspects and practical exercises. Her work might just give her an advantage when it comes to the race.
'As a police officer you need a sort of attitude of not giving up,' Tsang said. 'Whenever I take up a job, I want to finish it and I want to finish it with my biggest effort and I think this attitude will help. I'm not sure if I have prepared well enough for this, but I will try my best and I will go for it.'