Ready to do all it takes to succeed
Relocating abroad has not affected local gymnast Sampson Poon Chun-kit in his enthusiasm to represent Hong Kong on the global stage. The 18-year-old aspiring sports star is prepared to do all it takes to win fame and glory for himself and his hometown one day.
Sampson has been training as a gymnast since he was eight years old. 'I joined a gymnastics course and participated in some demonstration performances,' Sampson recalls. 'The Hong Kong team's coach Poon King-hung saw me perform and invited me to join the team's Elite Class.'
The Elite Class is the first level of the team and is for beginners. Over time Sampson went on to win a place first on Team B and finally on Team A.
The teen lived in Ma On Shan and was studying in Form Five at Lam Tai Fai College last year. During his time at Lam Tai Fai, he won many titles at local youth and inter-school competitions.
Then the successful athlete decided to study abroad.
Before he left for Nottingham, in Britain, he was listed as an elite athlete in gymnastics by the Hong Kong Sports Institute. Last October, he represented Hong Kong at the National Intercity Games.
Yet his move abroad cast doubts on his ability to continue doing gymnastics. His parents suggested he take up other sports at his new school. Sampson refused.
'They said I could do swimming or tennis, both of which I had done before,' he says. 'But I didn't want to give up the sport I've put so much effort into over the past 10 years.'
So Sampson joined a gymnastics club in Nottingham shortly after he arrived there last October to continue his studies at Nottingham Trent International College.
Then during training the next month he sprained his ankle.
'My ankle got swollen so badly I almost couldn't walk,' he says. 'I limped back to my dormitory. I was in so much pain I had to take a taxi to a local hospital.'
An x-ray revealed no serious damage, but Sampson was far from happy.
'I didn't have enough money for a return trip by taxi to my dorm,' he says. 'Without crutches or a walking stick, I had to walk very slowly to a bus stop. I burst into tears.'
He did not go back to hospital since the injury was not serious, yet his ankle kept bothering him. So when Sampson returned to Hong Kong in January, he had a check-up at the Sports Institute.
'Owing to the delay in treatment, there is some jelly-like stuff in my ankle, but that should not affect my performance much,' he notes.
Sampson even managed to represent Hong Kong in the team event at the Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships 2012 in Seattle, in the United States, last month.
Although his injury is still causing him some concern, he is keen to do well in the sport.
'I still believe in myself and I hope I can progress further in gymnastics when I join a university team next year,' he says.
And his injury proved to be a sort of blessing. 'It inspired me to apply to study sport therapy at university. I, too, went through a period of helplessness and pain. I want to help other injured young athletes.'