One Hurdle at a Time

Written by: Kang Hui Li

Joei is an easy-going active child who loves playing games and interacting with people. However, coming from a small family, he is limited in finding a gaming partner and hence spent time virtually on electronic and TV games instead. To address this, we signed him up with FWCC for more engaging and peer activities.


Joei had not been seriously exposed to track & field in his early years; he had no clue on what he was up for. Hence we had no initial expectations of him when he first started participating in sports. He initially tried his hand at triathlon, but at Primary 4, Coach Shawn recommended that Joei try the hurdles event. In April of 2015, Joei finished 4th for the 60m hurdles at the National Primary School Track and Field Competition.


In August the same year, Joei broke his right arm after he fell while hurdling  during training. He recovered the following year in time for the Nationals. Needless to say, he was very apprehensive hurdling again after the mishap. However, after a couple of training sessions with Coach Shawn, he regained his confidence. He went on to finish 4th again (for 80m hurdles this time) in the Primary 5 age group at Nationals. In his own words, clearing the hurdles that year was especially symbolic for him, both in terms of clearing physical and mental hurdles, after coming back from an injury.


By the time he reached Primary 6, schoolwork and supplementary classes at school took up the bulk of his time. He had very little time to train leading up to the National Schools Competition. Hurdling is unlike sprints or long runs where there are frequent races. The one and only race that Joei took part in was was the Sports School Invitation in March where he finished 6th in the hurdles event. That was a humbling experience for him. In the one month he had before Nationals, Joei diligently worked on his technique and speed.

It was at the National Primary Schools Championships in April 2017, Joei finally came in 1st in the 100m hurdles for the Primary 6 age group.


As a parent, I have witnessed how much Joei has developed as a sportsperson in the last 4 years with FWCC. With the achievements, he has become more disciplined and serious about athletics training now. He used to go for training because he looks forward to the companionship and social activities like soccer games after training. Now, he exhibits a strong sense of confidence and commitment to what he wants to pursue. This is a vital life-skill inculcated through training. I admire his resilience in bouncing back from injury. The camaraderie and friendships forged at FWCC have been invaluable.


While most athletes are very motivated and goal-driven, Joei is a process-driven child. He literally enjoys “smelling the roses” along the way. He takes his time to 'digest' things in his brain before executing them. It helps that Coach Shawn appreciates and understands Joei’s idiosyncracies thoroughly. He has been instrumental in Joei achieving success in his hurdles event.


Before the race, Joei did not put any pressure on himself - it also helped that Coach Shawn did not mention anything about winning. He encouraged Joei to focus on the fixed number of steps in between hurdles, and to just enjoy the smooth pace.


After Joei won the hurdles race, his first words were :”Smooth is fast.. Coach Shawn was right!”


Being an easily-contented child, Joei was apprehensive in setting goals. He had never finished as a champion before that race. However, after winning his first ever gold medal, he has a newfound confidence, a renewed self-esteem. He is beginning to believe in himself, that he could achieve more if he sets his mind to it.


We are grateful to Coach Shawn and Coach Fabian for believing in Joei. We are thankful for their guidance all these years. Our hope for Joei in the coming years is for him to continue to enjoy athletics, build up his self belief & self confidence  and pursue his interests 'Smoothly'.