Robyn's tough road to success
ROBYN Lamsam, or Ng Siu-bun in Cantonese, is synonymous to Hong Kong swimming - being the territory's fastest woman swimmer since 1992 when she was just a 14-year-old.
Fame and success, however, did not come easy for Robyn who took up swimming at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club when she was seven.
She quickly made her mark in age group competitions and was drafted into the junior training squad at the age of nine, under the wings of coach David Haller at the Jubilee Sports Centre (now renamed the Hong Kong Sports Institute).
A determined Robyn set a very ambitious target for herself, and that was to make the team for the 1992 Olympic Games. Robyn followed a rigorous training programme which required her to wake up well before the sun was up and completed a tough morning session before she went off to school. Her efforts paid off as she was selected for the 1992 Barcelona Olympiad, as the only woman swimmer in the Hong Kong squad.
Despite making a name for herself in Hong Kong, Robyn is still not satisfied and is determined to make her mark on the international stage.
With full support from her parents, Robyn gave up studies at the Diocesan Girls' School last year to become a full-time swimmer and travelled extensively for overseas training.
She will be flying Hong Kong's colours at next month's Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, but her new goal is to win medals at the Hiroshima Asian Games in October.
Robyn, holder of 14 Hong Kong national senior and junior records, has been training very hard to achieve her target - doing 10 sessions a week, mornings and afternoons.
She usually gets up at 4.30 am on a regular weekday, except Wednesdays when she is not required to train in the morning, as she has to be at the HKSI by 5 am for a 21/2 hours' pool session. She has a quick breakfast afterwards and then does an hour's weight training at the HKSI gymnasium.
And two or three times a week she has blood tests to monitor her progress, ensuring she is doing optimum level training but not overdoing it. She also has a massage four times a week to help her relax and loosen up her muscles.
''I have a massage twice a week at the sports institute and twice in Wan Chai where I train Monday and Thursday mornings,'' said Robyn.
''I need them with all the training and weights I do. I'm a really tight person, not very flexible, and without the massage I'd be like a rock.'' Robyn, however, has her regular day off on Sundays.
National coach Bill Sweetenham thinks Robyn has immense potential to become a world class swimmer, but he reckons the road to success is still a very long one for the talented 16-year-old.
''On top of 24 hours of pool training a week, Robyn should be doing four gym sessions of 45 minutes each and 30 minutes of stretching four or five times a week,'' said the Australian.
''And she should be having massages, meditation periods to visualise her aims and doing sit-ups and push-ups every night before going to bed. She's a little short of it now, especially on the visualisation part.'' Sweetenham, who will be returning to Australia at the end of the year to coach the national junior team there, hopes he will not lose his star swimmer and intends to take Robyn with him.
''I'll try to set her up a programme in Australia because there she can have frequent head-to-head high-level competition.''