Teenaged windsurfer is the pride of Hong Kong
Mak Cheuk-wing is only 13 but already has a junior world title under her belt; with support and training an Olympic medal in future is a real possibility
Hong Kong athletes seldom make big news. But when they do, they become a source of pride for the city. On Sunday, windsurfer Mak Cheuk-wing won a junior world championship for girls under 15. Mak stole the media limelight not only because she is just a 13-year-old junior secondary school student. She beat some 60 rivals from around the world to win in the Techno 239 class in Italy. The victory is seen as a path to qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games and ultimately, the Olympic Games.
Little known until now, the teenager is a new role model for her peers. She showed tremendous promise soon after starting her training at the age of nine. She finished a close second at the European junior championships in Poland in July, and went one step further this time around, clinching the world title with steady performances throughout the event. Speaking after her victory, Mak humbly attributed her success to the hard work of her coaches. But the aspiring champion is already aiming at the Olympics.
Mak’s success owes much to her talent and hard work. She is said to be able to pick up new skills quickly, which gives her an edge in adapting to different water and wind conditions when she competes. But unlike adult elite athletes who train full-time, Mak still has to spend time on her school work. Given that the competition at the senior level will be much tougher, Mak will have to find a lot more time for training.
Hong Kong’s geography is ideal for windsurfing and other water sports. Sadly, it has been 20 years since home-grown windsurfer Lee Lai-shan won the city’s first – and so far only – Olympic gold medal in Atlanta. The Rio Games this summer saw Michael Cheng Chun-leung finish eighth in the men’s windsurfing event. There is obviously still some hard work to be done before the city can win another Olympic title. But Mak’s victory shows that we have the potential to take on the world's best. Let’s hope she and other athletes can scale new heights.