Once a youth at risk, now a high jump star

June 16, 2017 17:30
Yeung Man-wai holds the Hong Kong record for the women's high jump. Yeung attends the University of Hong Kong as a business administration major. Photo: HKEJ

Yeung Man-wai is well known in Hong Kong as the holder of the women's high jump record.

During the final leg of the Asian Athletics Grand Prix in Taipei this year, Yeung won the gold medal by jumping 1.88 meters, the third time she has broken her own Hong Kong mark.

Such performance has no doubt turned Yeung, 22, into a celebrity, but she admitted she did not always have an easy time growing up. She was once considered a youth at risk, a young person who almost loses direction in life.

In an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Yeung said her parents divorced when she was six and it was her grandmother who raised her and her younger brother.

She spent more time on the streets than at home during her childhood.

At 16, she decided to move out because she could not stand her grandmother's nagging, living in a rented sub-divided flat with a meager allowance paid monthly by her divorced parents.

As she lived alone, she ended up wandering on the streets most of the time after school. She was just a step ahead of juvenile delinquency.

The turning point in her life came when she was a secondary three student.

Coach Wan tat-yung saw potential in her and helped her transfer to Diocesan Girls' School. There, he gave her training in high jump and pushed her to study hard.

After several years of intensive training, Yeung is a record holder in the women's high jump as well as a University of Hong Kong freshman majoring in business administration.

Yeung is grateful to Wan because she would not have become who she is now without him. One thing she feels regretful about is that her grandmother died too early.

She said she does not mind what other people think of her coming from a humble family background. All she wants to do is contribute to society through the influence she has gained from her fame, including using herself as an example to encourage young people to have a positive attitude toward life.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 9

Translation by Taka Liu

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HKEJ writer