Sam Tsuen Man Ng, Mr. Olympic

Ng Tsuen-manAs teams start to descend onto the beaches of Hong Kong for the Dragon Boat Festival, we catch up with Sai Kung’s Olympian kayaker.

I was born into a fisherman family in Sai Kung. I went to school at Yim Tin Island, most of the fishermen’s kids went to the same school if they had the chance to study.

My grandfather was a local fisherman in the area and our whole family worked together to catch fish for a living. I spent most of my childhood living on a fishing boat. I had to paddle to the open ocean towards Sai Kung town and back from a very young age. I encountered some scary situations, like falling into the open ocean from the boat. There were quite a lot of sharks out there.

I love the people in Sai Kung and the ocean around us. These days, there are too many people and there are traffic jams and car accidents almost every weekend.

The Olympics was the best experience of my life, I got to connect and compete with people who are the best in the world. My friends introduced me to kayaking when we were 15 years old. I did paddle training on my own as there was not much support back in the day. I was my own trainer.

I competed in the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympics in kayaking. My results weren’t as good as I had hoped but at least I did not come last. I won gold at almost every local competition during my peak years.

I used to be a lifeguard on the beaches in Hong Kong. I am now a consultant for Blue Sky Sports Club where I provide professional advice to trainers and students such as ways to train efficiently and how to stay safe in sudden rainstorms.

I’m 67 years old now and I still kayak for leisure. Round Island, Sharp Island and Kau Sai Chau are my favourite areas to kayak. I am very passionate about sports, especially watersports as they allow you to connect with nature while you work out.

My best achievement is that I am still strong and healthy, something that you can’t buy with money. I hope to stay that way as I get older. There is no secret to it, but my advice is to keep exercising and enjoy the experience. Go out every day if you can, even for half an hour. It’s that simple.