Hong Kong’s teenage windsurfing world champion Mak Cheuk-wing returns to hero’s welcome – and getting some fried rice is top priority
The 13-year-old schoolgirl is already being hailed as the ‘heir to Lee Lai-shan’
Mak Cheuk-wing, Hong Kong’s new sporting hero, got a taste of the spotlight she’s now under after the 13-year-old junior world windsurfing champion landed back in the city on Monday night to a media scrum.
Already the teenager is being hailed in local media as “daughter of the wind”, the heir apparent to Lee Lai-shan, Hong Kong’s only Olympic gold medallist. This despite the fact she’s not even eligible for the HK team for another year.
Mak won the under-15s title in the Techno 293 class on Lake Garda at the weekend.
Before getting carried away with hopes of emulating San-san, who won windsurfing gold at the Atlanta 96 Olympics, the teenager was focused first on reaching the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires – and getting a plate of her favourite fried rice.
“I’ve read about her in books,” Mak told Hong Kong media of local hero Lee, who won gold seven years before Mak was born.
The student at St Stephen’s Girls’ College is also a member of their basketball team and only stepped on to a surf board for the first time four years ago.
“I was a kid playing basketball, and sometimes came home from school and saw many people windsurfing in Stanley, I also wanted to try,” she said.
She thanked her father for the time he dedicated to her training. “Every time I go to practice, my father would be waiting for me on the shore, such support makes me more motivated,” she said.
Coach Cheng Hing-lun said she had plenty of room for improvement, saying she could get fitter and stronger, but pointed to her strong character to win against older girls. “Even in the training squad all her ‘brothers and sisters’ are over the age of 14, she has to deal with it.”
“She was more mature in dealing with the pressure this time [after failing to medal in the European championships in July].”
Athletes aren’t formally eligible for the Hong Kong team until age 14 but it is expected an exception will be made for Mak.
She said she would not let her sporting success distract from school.
“Windsurfing and basketball can train my concentration, and help develop analytical skills and team spirit, make personal development a little better – now I want to develop together academics and sports,” she added.
And after spending so much time eating nothing but pasta in Italy, Mak was in no doubt what her top priority was on returning to HK: “Most of all I want to eat fried rice!”