As proof that a healthy body and a healthy mind do go together, triathlete Derek Wong Ping-hong has won a place at university to study medicine. Over the past three years Wong, 19, has gained international acclaim in the triathlon. He was ranked third in the Triathlon Asian Cup Series Final (male junior) in India in January, the same position he achieved in the Hong Kong International Triathlon (male junior) and Asian Cup Series in South Korea and Hong Kong last year. 'Sport and studying have no conflicts if you can manage your time properly,' he said. 'I also find most athletes can balance their schoolwork with their training. 'I never thought for a moment that I wouldn't be able to strike a balance between the two because I had a strong belief in myself that I could do it.' Wong won his place at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) through the Sports Scholarship Scheme. The scheme was launched by HKU's Centre for Physical Education and Sport, along with the Hong Kong Sports Institute and the National Sports Association. He attributed part of his success to coach Wan Shue-Wah. 'He knows me very well and understands my needs as well as my difficulties. He helped me schedule my time to keep on training for up to three or four hours a day while studying,' he said. 'I was very excited when I knew they accepted my application because being a doctor was my childhood ambition. Now my dream has come true.' Although medicine is known as a subject which requires intensive study, Wong said he would not quit his sport. 'Sport is my interest and a part of my life. It gives me a sense of achievement and brings me pride; I won't quit it.' As a medical student, he believes a good doctor should take the lead by being a model of good health and physical fitness for his patients. 'If [the doctors] don't have good health, how can they persuade their patients to take care of their health?' Like most Hong Kong students, Wong said he was originally reluctant to do exercise. However, his attitude changed when he joined an exchange programme in the United States. 'My home-stay environment provided me with a larger area to do jogging. Then it became a habit. When I was back in Hong Kong, I kept on doing exercise and tried to learn other sports to keep myself fit,' he said. Returning home, Wong got his first taste of triathlon on a training course organised by the Regional Council. Already a keen cyclist, Wong was not scared to take up one of the world's most gruelling sports, which combines the rigours of swimming, running and cycling. 'Don't be scared by knowing how tough triathlon is. I think people who are interested in it should give it a try because it's challenging and is a way to test your endurance and diligence,' he said. 'If you take it as a hobby, there's no need to have a certain sporting background. However, if you want to be a professional triathlete, it's good for you to start swimming first,' he said. However, he said beginners would find it hard to get into training at first because their bodies would not be used to the physical demands of triathlon. 'But you should try it. If you don't try it, you will never know how much potential you have,' he said. He said he was satisfied with his achievements of the past three years. 'This year is the last time I join the junior male category. So, my long-term goal should be the single open category and the Asian Championships next April,' he said. To perfect his performance and prepare for high-level competition, he trains six days a week, spending a total of six hours a day swimming, running and cycling . Now studying and living at HKU, he is keeping up his intensive regime with university teams in Pokfulam. Wong said the popularity of the sport had received a boost as more youths had shown interest in joining triathlon competitions and training classes. 'Hong Kong is one of the strongest countries in triathlon in Asia, following Australia and Japan. 'However, if we have more up-and-coming athletes I think our performance will go to the top,' he said.