We feature some pretty incredible youth athletes on this page, but today is especially exciting, as we are celebrating two Olympic medallists!
Local ice hockey players Yam Yau and Elvis Hsu Chuo-xi have been teammates on the Hong Kong junior national team for years, but in the Men’s Mixed NOC 3-on-3 event at the 3rd Winter Youth Olympic Games held in Lausanne, Switzerland earlier this week, they became “rivals”.
The two Hong Kong representatives put on different jerseys in the mixed-nation event, in which they joined forces with hockey prodigies from other countries and regions to put their hockey skills to test in a new game format.
Although the teen players fought for different teams, they both made history for the city by bagging its first-ever medals at the elite Games. Yau helped Team Green to clinch gold by knocking out Team Red in the final with a score of 10-4, while Elvis’ Team Brown took the bronze medal with a narrow victory of 6-5 over Team Black.
Young Post phoned the pair in Switzerland to chat about their historic experience. The two Hongkongers were over the moon about bringing home some historic shiny souvenirs.
Yau, who fulfilled his goal of winning a gold medal for the city, described his victory as “a dream come true”. On top of being a milestone in his 11 years of playing the sport, the young Olympian believes his medal will also be a means of driving the development of hockey in Hong Kong.
“I felt like all my hard work has finally paid off. I believe Hongkongers are certainly very proud,” the 14-year-old said.
“This medal means so much because hockey isn’t that popular in Hong Kong,” adding that he hoped his win would encourage more people to learn about the sport.
Bronze medallist Elvis agreed that his medal, which he sees as one of his “single most prized possessions”, was not merely a personal triumph, it is also proof to his peers that they, too, should dare to dream big.
“I feel a sense of completion in obtaining the medal. Even though it isn’t gold or silver, a bronze is still extremely valuable in my opinion,” Elvis said.
“I believe this medal can inspire the youth of Hong Kong, that someone as young as me is able to achieve one of their dreams of being an Olympic medallist,” he added.
Reflecting on the experience of teaming up with top junior players from around the world, Yau referred to the other highly skilled, incredibly friendly Team Green players as a “dream team”. Despite the language barrier, the Diocesan Boys’ School student said he bonded well with his teammates during the tournament, thanks to Google Translate.
“I learned so much from these talented players, and I will never forget the intense yet exciting atmosphere of the final, which really [led to] our team being in high spirits,” the Form Three student recalled.
While Elvis admitted that his team were not the top dogs, he said they had displayed exceptional energy and motivation throughout the entire tournament. The 15-year-old was most proud of the team’s fierce comeback in the bronze medal match, following their painful defeat against Team Red in the semi-finals.
The Year 11 student said the experience taught him that the most important part of being in a team is boosting morale, because when players are downhearted, it is incredibly hard to win.
“We were all devastated [after the semi-final loss]. However, we picked ourselves up and played the best we could in the bronze medal game. Evidently, we overcame the devastation, and won the bronze medal,” the Sha Tin College student said.
When asked what they thought of the 3-on-3 format, which makes the game shorter and faster by halving both the number of players and the size of the rink, Yau and Elvis declared it a brilliant twist on traditional ice hockey.
“I had not tried this unique competition format before, but I really liked it because with the small rink, the game is very fast paced and you have to think quickly to make a decision,” said Yau.
Since their victories in Lausanne, the Yau has returned home, while Elvis is now in Japan for a training camp in preparation for the 14th National Winter Games to be held in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region next month, where the teenager hopes to shine on the rink once again.
“Now that I have competed in the Youth Olympics, I hope I can perhaps play in the senior Games in the future. I will definitely carry on pursuing my hockey dream,” Yau said.
Given the magnitude of both players’ success, we have no doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more of their names in the months and years to come.