Warriors or wimps? Hong Kong gymnasts leave comfort zone for a Spartan adventure in the outdoors

Kelvin Ng is joined by fellow gymnast Stone Shek and karatedo athlete Jimmy Lee in gruelling outdoor challenge

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 November, 2017, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 November, 2017, 10:32pm

Sipping on a freshly cracked coconut at the beach on a balmy afternoon is typically what athletes dream of doing during the off-season – but not Hong Kong gymnast Kelvin Ng Kiu-chung.

The 26-year-old still rings specialist will swap chalk for mud as he and some of his national teammates compete in this Saturday’s Spartan Race that separates warriors from wimps.

“I know there will be ropes, running and a lot of climbing,” said first-timer Ng. “My coach doesn’t know about this yet, but we’ll be careful.”

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Posted by Ng Kiu Chung 吳翹充 on Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Ng will be joined by fellow gymnast Stone Shek Wai-hung and karatedo athlete Jimmy Lee Ka-wai as the trio prepare to face literal hurdles and brick walls at Kam Tin Country Club in Yuen Long.

They will compete in the Spartan Sprint, a 6km race featuring more than 20 signature obstacles, plus a secret obstacle. The Spartan Super is a gruelling 13km and has more than 25 obstacles.

“We gymnasts only compete for a maximum of 70 seconds – it’s an explosive performance – but the Spartan will be all about endurance,” said Ng, who is locally known as the ‘Prince of Still Rings’.

“It will be more like an all-round gymnastics competition so we have mixed in some conditioning and cardio into our training.”

The athletes are still very much in the training groove, having recently performed at the National Gymnastics Extravaganza, where spectators were treated to top-class routines and even a bit of showboating from Ng.

“Agility will be my strength for the race. I learned gymnastics from when I was very young, so I know how to coordinate my body,” said Ng, the first Hong Kong gymnast to win an international medal.

Watch Kelvin Ng at the National Gymnastics Extravaganza (starts 1:25:40)

大新銀行呈獻國家體操匯香港"現場直播"

大新銀行呈獻國家體操匯香港現場直播

Posted by 國家體操匯香港 National Gymnastics Extravaganza on Saturday, 21 October 2017

“I know we are going to lift different [objects], which may be a bit tough because we don’t do a lot of weightlifting.”

The Spartan Race has 25 obstacles with names such as The Twister and Stairway to Sparta. Failure to complete or comply with rules leads to 30 penalty burpees, but a few dozen punishment sets don’t faze the boys.

“It should be OK,” Ng said. “Jimmy has some experience in these things, so he’ll probably do better.”

Ng made history in 2015 when he became the first Hong Kong gymnast to successfully submit a self-created element to the International Federation of Gymnastics Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee.

‘Ng Kiu Chung (HKG)’ and ‘Ng Kiu Chung (HKG) 2’ are now accepted as distinct elements in still rings, meaning other gymnasts may use them in future.

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With such a reputation on the line, Ng will be letting his athlete instincts take over when he participates in the sprint category this weekend.

“Of course, it’s a bit of fun, but I’m an athlete. I’m automatically going to try my best. That’s what happens.”