Boy thief becomes first from his school to reach university

Chris Tang credits rehabilitation centre for second chance and runs 250km to prove it

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 August, 2014, 4:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 August, 2014, 5:14pm

He was once a juvenile delinquent repeatedly caught stealing. Now, Chris Tang Shun-yin has become the first student from a rehabilitation centre for problem children to get into university.

Tang, 20, credits Christian Zheng Sheng College on Cheung Chau with giving him a fresh start as he prepares to major in sports science and physical education at Chinese University. His goal is to become a sports teacher.

"Before, I was a rebellious and self-centred boy who was caught stealing. Now, I have found my direction and am given a second chance," he said. "The college has changed my life.

"I want to influence other people's lives and help young people grow by sharing my experience with them. My principal and teachers … are the perfect examples of what it means to be a real teacher."

His sense of gratitude saw him embark on a week-long, 251km marathon across the Sahara Desert in February to raise HK$2 million for the school.

"After running 30km on the first day, my left thigh was so painful that I felt like I couldn't continue any more," he said. But he did. "The toughest day was the fifth, in which we had to complete 86km within 24 hours."

The experience taught him humility. "It's really important to take advice. If I had listened to the suggestions from those who had run the marathon before, I wouldn't have strained myself so badly on the very first day.

"It's in difficult times like those that you really feel how small and insignificant you are; that's humbling."

His principal, Chan Siu-cheuk, who founded Zheng Sheng in 1998 to help young offenders and teenagers with drug problems, described Tang as a smart boy gifted in sports. "I'm glad he is achieving what he wants and am very proud to see his talents recognised."