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Like father, like son:  Former Hong Kong champion cyclist Hung Chung-yam and his son Cyrus share a passion for cycling.


Family backing:  Gold medallist windsurfer Lee Lai-shan says she will support her daughters' sporting ambitions.

Good sports make healthy families

November 23, 2010

Playing sport is a popular pastime for the families of former Hong Kong cycling champion Hung Chung-yam and windsurfing gold medallist Lee Lai-shan. They recently told playing sport with their children strengthens family ties.


Hung's son Cyrus is passionate about cycling. At the age of 11 he had won the Hong Kong Future Cyclists Race championship twice.


The pair trains four days a week, peddling between Sha Tin and Tai Po for 45 minutes, rain or shine. Only the strength of a typhoon can ruin their routine.


Hung said Cyrus started cycling due to poor health.


"Before he was four years old, visiting the doctor used to be our family activity on the weekends. His white blood cell count was low, therefore his immune system was weak. The doctor said there was nothing he could do but recommended Cyrus do cardio sports activities when he reached four years old."


The move saw not only Cyrus' health blossom, but also his passion for cycling.



Eyes on the goal

Hung said cycling is not just a sport. It teaches discipline, willpower and setting a target in doing everything.


"Children nowadays can be distracted by a lot of things, like watching television, playing video games and gathering with friends. There were a few times when Cyrus wanted to give up as our training was tough.


"As the father, I encouraged Cyrus, telling him we need to set a target for everything and work hard towards it. He also needs to understand he will definitely face different kinds of challenges throughout the process."


Cyrus has already experienced success and failure, and his father is there constantly to counsel and help him understand why he won or why he did not, helping him set good values. It has also improved their communication as a family.


"I used to be very concerned about whether Cyrus won or not when he first started to compete. That attitude was wrong. Parents have to let their children grow according to their own pace. Children have to experience different kinds of challenges and setbacks to grow."


These days, Cyrus thinks less about winning, instead focusing on giving his best in each race. Every victory proves he can do it, bringing him a lot of satisfaction.


With his father's athletic success, Cyrus wants to be a full-time athlete representing Hong Kong at the Olympics, the Asian Games, the All-China Games and the World Championships. Hung said he respects his son's decision and will use all his experience, resources and networks to help him achieve his dream.


Life experience

Lee also says she will support her two daughters if they want sporting careers.


"I learned so much when I was an athlete and these experiences are so valuable. They cannot be bought and not too many people can have those kinds of experiences," she said.


The Olympic and Asian Games gold medallist and her windsurfing team-mate and husband Sam Wong let their daughters try different kinds of sport – windsurfing, swimming, canoeing, cycling, running, badminton, hiking and dancing.


"We brought the children to the beach when they were only three or four months old. We wanted them to know outdoor activities are fun, and slowly they developed their interest in sport. Doing sport is a habit and we need to keep doing it if we want good results. Parents need to educate children when they are young that doing sport is good for their health."


The family sometimes paddle their canoe to deserted beaches where the children can see marine life. It is not only a good learning opportunity but also a great way to strengthen the family bond.


"I know some parents who take up windsurfing or help out in regattas because their children are in it. As they understand more about the sport, they can have better conversations with their kids and indirectly they support them in getting better results," Lee said, adding family sports participation is a great stress reliever.


She hopes the Government's education policy will offer more flexibility in secondary education so youngsters can focus on training and produce better results.