Kowloon Park splashdown
Dickson Chow Ho-wing has used disappointments to keep on improving as a diver. Despite the setbacks, including niggling injuries caused by overtraining, he has managed to remain positive.
He has competed in the sport - diving off a 3m-high springboard - since 2002, after giving up swimming because he found races too boring.
'My swimming coach asked members of the club to join an introductory diving course and I enjoyed it,' says the Form Five student at Jockey Club Ti-I College. 'I met my coach, Gordon Ng, and joined his club, Diving, Concepts.'
Except for the period of pool closures during the Sars outbreak, Dickson has trained at least five days a week ever since.
Diving training can be painstaking because of the need for precise movements and gestures - from the jump until the moment of entering the water.
'I love diving,' Dickson says. 'Even when I have sad moments during the day, once I step onto the diving board and focus on my dive, all my negative feelings disappear.'
When he was 16, he partnered Jayson Poon Wai-ching, one of Hong Kong's best divers at the time, in 3m springboard synchronised diving. But his progress, compared with Jayson, who was two years older, was not thought good enough, and he was replaced by another diver for competitions. 'I am a guy who easily gets nervous when under pressure,' Dickson says. 'I tried to compensate for missing out on the East Asian Games by doing even more training. I naively thought that I would be much stronger if I trained harder - and I overdid the intensity and injured my left knee. Stupidly I wasn't brave enough to tell my coach what had happened.'
Dickson, who bandaged up his knee to try to solve the problem, then faced another setback.
He went to Mexico to try to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games but finished 13th out of the 20 competitors. He missed out on a top-12 place, which would have enabled him to contest one of the final eight places for the Games.
'I cried for half an hour in my hotel room after narrowly missing out,' he says.
Dickson continued to train, but says he began to lose enthusiasm for the sport.
'The worst thing was not the failure, it was getting used to being defeated in the tournaments, or qualifiers,' the Hong Kong diving squad member says. 'My indifferent results were leaving me really frustrated and fed up.'
Yet, another disappointment was the incident that rekindled his passion for diving. The Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association had planned to use results from last year's Hong Kong Open Diving Championships to decide who would take part in the qualifiers for this summer's London Olympics. But after the open championships were postponed, the association decided to use the event's 2010 results instead.
It meant Dickson missed out on the required standard in 3m diving again - by only a few points.
However, this setback, unlike his past experiences, motivated him and helped him to finally achieve a breakthrough.
'I realised I had to control my own fate and career,' he says. 'I needed to attain a higher level in competitions so people would take more notice of me.'
He finally beat his diving partner, Jayson - the winner of most local titles over the past few years - in successive 3m springboard competitions.
This Sunday, the two will battle it out for the overall 3m springboard title at this year's Hong Kong Diving Series. 'Jayson won Part One and I won Part Two, with Part Three this Sunday,' says Dickson, who won the 2007-08 and 2009-10 overall titles when Jayson missed the competitions.
'It's a big test; I really want to win the overall title by beating him.'
You can watch Dickson compete at Kowloon Park swimming pool on Sunday. Admission is free.
For more details, go to www.hkasa.org.hk/