Leading athletes and coaches are getting a chance to develop their training skills, thanks to a new degree programme organised by the Hong Kong Coaching Committee and the Beijing University of Physical Education. The Bachelor of Education in Sports Training is the first degree course to be offered to athletes and coaches in the SAR. Taking five years to complete on a part-time basis, the course combines classroom teaching and distance learning. Students will take subjects including sports physiology, sports biochemistry, theory of coaching, sport nutrition, sports management and sports specific subjects. The programme will be conducted in Putonghua by lecturers from the Beijing University of Physical Education. Lectures are held on weekday evenings or weekends at the Sports Institute. Lena Fung, coach education manager for Hong Kong Sports Development Board (SDB), said the Hong Kong Coaching Committee collaborated with the Beijing University of Physical Education to offer the course because the mainland institute was known for the high standard of its sports training programme. She said the demand for sports training was huge and the programme could help athletes and coaches to gain professional skills and qualifications in training. Hong Kong Coaching Committee, a joint committee of the SDB and the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, aims to establish an infrastructure to develop coaching education in Hong Kong. 'The course is the first of its kind in Hong Kong and will definitely benefit those who intend to pursue higher qualifications in sports training,' Hong Kong Coaching Committee chairman John Fan Kam-ping said. Students participating in the programme should pass the entrance examination and interviews and have reached Form Five standard. 'The programme has been endorsed by the Ministry of Educa tion of the central Government and the State Sports General Administration,' Professor Zhang Wenzeng, vice-president of the Beijing University of Physical Education, said. 'We will assure [course participants] that a team of quality teaching staff will be brought in to make the programme a success.' A total of 23 leading coaches and athletes have been admitted to the programme. They include Chiang Wai-hung, Hong Kong record holder in the men's 100-metre sprint; To Wai-lok, Hong Kong record-holder in the men's 200-metre sprint; Chang Yu-ho, Hong Kong record-holder in high jump; Lo Nga-ching, silver medallist in the World Wushu Championships; retired badminton aces William Wong Wai-lap and Wong Chun-fan; and SDB fencing coach and Asian Games bronze medallist Ringo Lo Moon-tong.