‘Live the Life You Love and Find Your Own Way.’
World Champion Racing Cyclist Wong Kam Po Shows His Legacy at UM
Text & Photo: Trainee UM Reporter Shakhawat Hossain Shuvoraj
Wong Kam Po, a world champion racing cyclist from Hong Kong, recently gave a talk titled ‘Cycling Sports Legacy’ at the University of Macau (UM) Student Activity Centre (E31). Part of the UM Distinguished Lecture Series, the talk attracted many students.
Wong delivers an inspiring speech at UM
Wong described this event as a great opportunity for him to meet the Macao community, especially the young people. He shared his experiences in his cycling career with the students and offered advice on how to conquer the fear of trying new things. During the talk, Wong discussed the difficulties and setbacks he has overcome to get to where he is. ‘The happiest thing is to turn your interest into a career you love,’ said Wong.
Wong was born in the early 70s in Hong Kong. He started dreaming about becoming a cyclist when he was 14. An independent thinker, he has always made his own decisions since childhood, and he is always the first among his friends to try new things and think outside the box. Wong grew up in a big traditional family with seven brothers and sisters, where his parents spent more time making a living than taking care of the children. Because of the lack of parental care, he gradually shifted his interest to cycling and started behaving like a bohemian. It was also then that he started cycling near the mountains and rivers in his village.
Wong shares his childhood memories of cycling
Before Wong became a professional cyclist, he was just another average Joe with a steady job. However, he didn’t want to give up on his dream to become a professional cyclist. So after a long period of inner struggle, Wong quit his job and joined the cycling team in 1990 as a full-time cyclist. ‘We make a lot of choices in our lives,’ he told the audience in his lecture at UM. ‘But before we make any important decision, we have to make sure that it’s a decision we feel comfortable with and it’s a decision that honours our true selves.’ After receiving intensive training for a year, Wong won the championship at the Asian Junior Cycling Championships in 1991. That victory changed his life dramatically. But winning fame at a young age can be a double-edged sword—his lack of communication skills to effectively resolve arguments with his teammates eventually cost him the chance to participate in the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.
Wong shows his Rainbow Jersey
In 1994, Wong met the most important person in his professional cycling career—Shen Jinkang, who would later become his coach. Shen helped Wong regain his confidence and recognise his potential. Wong also resolved his conflicts with his teammates and went on to become one of the most famous cyclists in Asia. He has won medals at various competitions, including the Asian Games, the National Games of China, the Asian Championships, and the Track World Cup. The most exciting event he has participated in was the UCI Track World Championships in 2007. He won his first world championship in the 15-kilometre scratch race and earned the right to wear the Rainbow Jersey – the distinctive jersey worn by the reigning world champion in a cycling discipline, for the year 2007-2008. He also set a record of representing Hong Kong at five Olympic Games from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to the 2012 London Olympics before retiring in the Tour of Taihu Lake in China in 2012.
Wong has been crowned the ‘Hong Kong Sports Star of the Year’ many times and has received the most coveted title of the ‘Best of the Best Hong Kong Sports Star Award’ three times. He is now the programme development executive of the Sports Legacy Scheme under SF&OC Sports Legacy Company Limited. The purpose of this scheme is to help both student athletes and elite athletes who are planning to retire or those have already retired to pursue their dreams in sports. Wong now trains young athletes under this scheme to help prepare them for the future.
During the talk, Wong reflected on his 25-year-long cycling career and shared his thoughts on his success. ‘What makes me love cycling so much is not the number of medals I have won in the competitions, but the charm of the sport which helps me live the life I love and find my own way,’ said Wong. He also emphasised two important points in his sharing session. ‘Happiness is the most important thing in life and we should pursue a career that gives us pleasure and happiness,’ he said. ‘The other important point is to keep trying different things and be persistent in pursuing your goals’.
Vina Li, a student from the Faculty of Art and Humanities, shared her feelings after the event. ‘Wong is really a brave person and his positive attitude is very inspiring,’ said Li. Chio Chon In, a fourth-year student from the Faculty of science and Technology, said it was a great privilege to listen to Wong live. ‘He is the legend of Hong Kong Cycling Team and a true inspiration for young people,’ remarked Chio.