Paddling their way to glory
The canoe team from Tsang Pik Shan Secondary School had a great year in 2010 and is fast becoming a powerhouse at inter-school and local youth tournaments.
Part of their success, the team told Young Post, comes from a change in training venues.
Once they trained only on the Shing Mun River, but now they also regularly row out to sea at Sai Kung. The choppy waters there help the young athletes gain an edge in keeping balance.
Several members of the team have passed the cut. Jeff Cheung Tsz-chung, Jacky Wong Chun-wai and Kingson Che King-shing were selected for the Hong Kong Youth Team a few months ago.
'It is the result of all the hard work we have done together over the year. We train hard at every practice,' Jacky said.
'Sometimes we even have extra training,' Kingson added.
The third young athlete, Jeff, is also a member of the Hong Kong windsurfing Youth Training Squad.
'I need to find a balance between the two sports,' he said.
On Saturdays, Jeff added, he was supposed to train both in canoeing and windsurfing.
He has opted for windsurfing because he trains in canoeing twice on weekdays.
A pivotal member of the school team is its captain, Ng Ka-nam. The Form Five Hong Kong Elite Team member is an up-and-coming canoeing champion. The junior athlete won a total of 10 gold medals at the 2010 Secondary School Canoe Competition and 2010 Hong Kong Canoe Sprint and Age Group Championships. His successes have set a benchmark for his teammates.
'When I was in the junior forms, I always finished 8th or 9th in the races,' he said. 'Now I can stand on top of the podium at many tournaments. As a leader of the team, I do my best to assist our athletes and they listen to me.'
Although the sport is not as popular among girls in general, Tsang Pik Shan fields a strong line-up of female athletes.
Form Seven student Amanda Luk Wing-wah is a Hong Kong Youth Team member who won a marathon canoe race in Macau last year. 'Canoeing is not a contact sport so boys and girls can train and have fun together,' she said.
The school's other promising canoeists include Form Two student Jenny Law Hoi-ying and Form Three student Lau Kin-fung.
Kin-fung has set her sights on joining the Youth Team. 'The Youth Team athletes are my role models and I want to be like them,' Kin-fung said. 'I will have an assessment for Youth Team qualification in March and I think what I have learnt from my seniors will give me a greater chance to join the team.'
Boosted by the team's successes, the school aims to expand its canoeing team and invest in more and better equipment. 'We are going to buy more paddles and new boats to help members of our team do their training at a higher level,' said Chor Kam-fai, the teacher in charge of the team.
'In the past we just borrowed boats and paddles from a training base and we couldn't always guarantee that every student had one in good condition, or even that he or she had a boat at all.'