WITH MOST LOCALS striving for academic excellence, being an athlete in Hong Kong is not easy. For a disabled athlete, life is even tougher.
But South China Morning Post Student Sportsperson of the Year, wheelchair fencer Alison Yu Chui-yee, has managed to overcome all odds to become a world-beater.
The Our Lady of the Rosary College student, awarded the Chief Executive's Commen-dation For Community Service Honour on July 1, is happy to win the prestigious SCMP prize. 'To me, every award is a recognition of my efforts,' said the 18-year-old, who took up the sport just two years ago.
The fencer, who won four gold medals at the FESPIC Games in South Korea and the world title in Hungary last year, will receive a $10,000 SCMP scholarship, a course worth $1,500 from the Art School, Hong Kong Arts Centre, and $10,000 worth of gift vouchers from Reebok Hong Kong.
A five-time winner of the Outstanding Junior Athlete Award organised by the Hong Kong Sports Development Board, Chui-yee - who lost a leg to bone cancer when she was 11 - admitted that being a disabled athlete in Hong Kong was tough. The teenager said she had to tackle many problems, such as study pressure and an insecure future, after her days as an athlete were over.
Despite the drawbacks, she said sport was a good training ground, physically and mentally.
'We have to undergo intensive physical training as well as handle the intense pressure during competition,' Chui-yee said, adding that sports had become part of her life. Her next target is to win a medal for Hong Kong at the Athens Paralympic Games next year.
The runner-up from Po Leung Kuk Tang Yuk Tien College, all-round athlete Man Ka-ho, 19, will be awarded a $3,000 scholarship.