Asian Games 2018: mum’s ‘specially prepared soup’ has gymnast Shek Wai-hung fighting fit and ready for more gold
The 26-year-old took out the men’s vault four years ago and has returned to full fitness in time to defend his title
Gymnast Shek Wai-hung is back to full fitness and was quick to thank his mother as he prepares to defend his men’s vault title at the Asian Games, crediting her special Chinese herbal soup as giving him a boost.
Four years ago at the Incheon Games, Shek pulled off a huge surprise by defeating 2012 Olympic champion Yang Hak-seon on his home turf to clinch a gold medal in the men’s vault.
But since then Shek has been hampered by a serious shoulder injury, with the 26-year-old failing to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and even considering retirement.
“My mother’s specially prepared soup played a part in healing my injury,” Shek said on Monday. “It provides a lot of collagen which really helps. But of course I also needed to work hard to get back to my form.”
The special soup contains deer tendon, ginseng and other traditional Chinese herbs, with Shek admitting his mother, a former sports official from Guangzhou, aids his performance in more than one way come big events.
“The closer the Games get, the more the pressure piles up, especially as I am the defending champion,” said Shek. “She does not want to give me pressure and pretends it is business as usual, but I know she really cares.”
In his third Asian Games appearance, Shek is determined to enjoy himself and hopes that approach will help him spring another surprise.
“What I can control is I have to deliver what I have done during training and what I can’t control is the performance of other competitors,” he said. “If I can perform my best, it doesn’t matter if I win a medal or not as other athletes may do better than me.
“This is going to be my third Asian Games and I have learned how to keep a peaceful mind in order to play my best.”
To give themselves every chance of medalling, Hong Kong have secured a top Chinese gymnastics coach to help Shek and the men’s team in Indonesia.
Bai Yuanshao, former coach of five-time Olympic gold medallist Zou Kai, said Shek and rings specialist Ng Kiu-chung will have the best chance of making the podium.
“They are both experienced players and know to handle a big tournament like the Asian Games,” said Bai. “Most importantly, they are free from any injury and if they can deliver on the day, they have a good chance.”
Ng, 27, said this would likely be his last Asian Games after representing Hong Kong in Guangzhou and Incheon.
“I have had the best preparation this time,” said Ng, the 2017 Asian Championships rings silver medallist who just returned from a 12-day training camp in Guangzhou.
“Whether I can win a medal is too early to say but the competitors are almost the same as last year’s Asian Championships. I am sure I have the quality.”
Jim Man-hin, also a vault specialist, makes up the men’s team while it is the first time Hong Kong are sending two women’s gymnasts to the Asian Games – balance beam specialist Ng Yan-yin and vaulter Chan Tsz-sum.