Ready to go the distance
Long-distance runner Wong Ching-yee knows her talent and potential. Sometimes she fails, but she is determined and knows she will eventually succeed.
The Form Four student from Fukien Secondary School in Kwun Tong was the champion of this year's junior women's half-marathon race at the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. This was her first entry in the half-marathon.
Last year, she ran in the junior category of the 10km race and came third.
Ching-yee revealed that the road to the top spot was not easy.
'Years ago, I was a runner in 800m and 1,500m races. But I lacked the explosive force to speed up before crossing the finishing line. With my coach's encouragement, I've tried to extend the distance I run,' she said.
It took Ching-yee almost a year to lengthen her running distance to half-marathon, which is just over 21km. 'I also do 10km and 15km runs, but I like half-marathon more as I can increase my pace gradually throughout the race, while 10km and 15km runs require a constant speed,' said Ching-yee. She joined the Hong Kong team in 2008.
The second-ranked junior half-marathon runner in Hong Kong found it difficult to claim the junior top ranking and needed a breakthrough to improve her time. To show her determination, she had a haircut to achieve a 'fresh start'.
'I live in Tai Po. With shorter hair, I can wake up late and save time on getting ready. It also gives me a feeling that I have made some changes and I am ready to achieve personal best times in upcoming races,' said the 17-year-old.
She spends four weekdays on training and on Wednesdays goes jogging near her home.
'I go to Sha Tin and training goes on until 10pm. When I was younger, my parents worried for my safety because I needed to go home late. After getting home, I only have time for dinner and a bath before my rest,' said Ching-yee. She makes good use of the time in between school and training to finish her homework.
She faces keen competition in open races with other top girls in Hong Kong.
But at inter-school races, she faces fewer challenges as her school is competing in Division Two. She claimed her Grade A title last year and will defend it next month. Besides competing, she coaches friends at school.
'Some classmates asked me to teach them jogging,' she said. 'We went to Kowloon Bay Sports Ground nearby and they found it tough to run a long distance. I encouraged them to keep running and not give up. Now school has started, we don't run together, but some of them tell me they go jogging near their homes now. I hope more schoolmates will enjoy running.'
Ching-yee is ready for the upcoming long-distance running season. 'My ultimate target is to join the full marathon in 2013 when I meet the age limit requirement,' she said.