Hong Kong’s top middle-distance youth runner Aryan Sidhu hopes his “ridiculous” times can combat prejudice or negative assumptions towards his South Asian ethnicity. The 18-year-old, born in Hong Kong to Indian parents, capped another stellar 1,500 metre track season with an A.S. Watson Group Hong Kong Student Sports Award last week as he continues to shave time off his personal best. The Delia Memorial School (Broadway) student also eagerly awaits his HKDSE results as he plots his next move. “Sport is a way to overcome discrimination in Hong Kong. It shows other people that not all [people of] ethnic minorities are the same. It’s really helped me a lot in meeting new people, making friends and making an image for myself and my school,” the Tuen Mun native said. “The main assumptions are what you see on the news. You see South Asians doing this or that, then people think everyone is like that. [Running] is good for me because maybe I can help that – help people take this way of thinking away. “There are some bad people, and some good, but you can’t classify everyone as one. I can finally change the way people think of South Asians or ethnic minorities. [My family] consider ourselves as Hong Kong citizens and I want to feel connected as one in Hong Kong.” After being crowned Hong Kong’s No 1 in the 1,500m youth category in 2019, a mere two years after switching his football kit for the school’s track-and-field uniform, Sidhu has emerged as a promising senior candidate. He is one of two members of ethnic minority groups in the junior set-up alongside teammate and No 1-ranked 800m runner Mohammad Kamran Khan. Though they have experienced discriminatory comments on the sports ground, the pair has since competed for Hong Kong on multiple occasions. One highlight includes the All-China Youth Under-18s Athletics Championships in 2018, though the memory is slightly tarnished after Khan was reportedly the last of the team to leave border customs after being held back for questioning. “It was really hard to be No 1; you need hard work and teamwork. Kamran and I train together and it’s really good competition. We push each other to cross our limits even further,” Sidhu said. “I’ve been through a lot – for example in school I have to manage time, studies and sports – and sometimes you feel at your lowest point. But you have to be there for yourself. Trust that you’re always strong enough to fight and train to go further. “I may be No 1 but sometimes even I don’t feel like going to training. But I have teammates, coaches, teachers and friends that help me a lot. Six years of studying in this school and they’ve never failed to support me,” he added. Sidhu is confident he has earned the respect of the city’s running community. He clocked his personal best (4:02.42) and maintained his junior No 1 ranking at the Hong Kong Athletics Championships in 2019 against the likes of Jing Ying titans Diocesan Boys School and La Salle College. “Actually, they look up to me now. I have ridiculous times and we just motivate each other. Everyone does their hard work and has their low points in life. We have a mutual understanding and support respect for each other, that’s how it works in running,” he said. “My family didn’t really support me at the start because they thought that sports couldn’t take you anywhere. But after a few years I started to make a name for myself ... and they started to see that sports can really help a lot.” Newly equipped with a top student sports star certificate, Sidhu is confident it is just the beginning in terms of recognition. He cited the Covid-19 pandemic as having “demotivated” some of his peers and hoped for a quick turnaround now that grounds have reopened, summarising it in his life mantra: “The harder you fall, the higher you bounce”. As for future targets, aside from trying to break the near 50-year national 1,500m record, set by Dave Gibson in 1972, and wanting to compete more overseas, Sidhu has set goals for his team. He is interested in a potential career in sports management or coaching. “I have a team goal for everyone to get into the Hong Kong team. I think we can do it. Though mostly Kamran and I train together, there are other Chinese runners from our school who are really talented. I also have a longer-term goal to share my knowledge and experience with younger athletes and improve the level of sports development in Hong Kong,” he said.