Games medallist mixes sport with studies

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 December, 2010, 12:00am

Pursuing sport or study can often be a tough choice for young athletes, but for people like windsurfer Hayley Chan Hei-man, the University of Hong Kong offers a solution to their dilemma.

Chan, 19, the silver medallist in the women's Mistral at the Asian Games last month, has been admitted to the university through its sports scholarship scheme without having to sit the A-level exam.

She left school after gaining three As in the HKCEE examin to focus on training and competition but always wanted to return to her studies. That wish came true in August, while she was in Denmark for a youth championship, when her acceptance letter from the University of Hong Kong's arts faculty arrived.

'I'm very interested in writing and I am considering pursuing sports journalism after graduation,' said Chan, who enjoys reading Jane Austen and Emile Zola.

The sports scholarship was established in 1995 to provide an alternative route for athletes to gain admission to the university. The applicant's commitment to sporting excellence is considered as well as academic performance.

Last year, of 130 athletes who applied about 20 were accepted. Applications have been increasing in recent years, which the university's Institute of Human Performance said was probably due to government support for student athletes.

'Financial and educational support from the government is undoubtedly stronger for athletes of my generation compared to the previous generation,' Chan said.

'I'm very lucky to be in the windsurfing team. The event has received so much support from the government after Lee Lai-shan won the Olympic gold medal in 1996.'