In recent years, a myriad of outstanding Hong Kong athletes have garnered championships in international sports competitions. Among them, para-athletes are also dedicated to participating in sports galas worldwide and have achieved breakthroughs, bringing tremendous glory to Hong Kong. Mr. Chu Man Kai Tony, a year two Chung Chi student pursuing the Bachelor of Education in Physical Education, Exercise Science and Health degree programme, is one of the para-badminton players in Hong Kong. He has excellent track records in international sports tournaments by winning the silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and the gold medal at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2022, becoming the world's no. 1 in men's singles SH6 badminton and leading to groundbreaking achievements in Hong Kong para-badminton. How did Tony transform himself from being an amateur to the world's top player? Why did he decide to go back to school while being a full-time athlete?
Tony Chu won gold at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2022 in Tokyo, becoming the world’s no. 1 in men’s singles SH6 badminton.
I enjoyed both sports and non-sports activities during my childhood. Apart from playing table tennis, I also loved playing the piano. When I was a secondary school student, I started playing badminton. I have built a network of badminton lovers and coaches from my workplace and other occasions, and cultivated my interests in this ball game. At that time, I worked for a primary school, my alma mater, and did not think of turning my hobby into a career. When I was twenty-six years old, my teammate, a retired badminton player, encouraged me to consider engaging in para-badminton as I might be eligible to enter the Short Stature SH 6 Para-Badminton Sport Class. I ended up realising that my physical attributes qualify me for being a para-athlete. Therefore, I gave it a try. When I made my debut in international tournaments in Thailand and Ireland in 2017, I won the gold medal in men’s doubles in both games. Having realised my potential, in addition to the Pilot Scheme for Elite Vote Support System for Disability Sports implemented by The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I decided to be a full-time para-athlete in April 2018.
I don't feel too stressed as I think each attempt is a fresh start. Instead of focusing on defeating my competitors, I would rather surpass myself. Whenever I finish a competition, I would reflect on my performance. I always bear in mind that I am number two. This belief enables me to stay humble and urges me to make relentless efforts to seek room for improvement. Even though I am now the world’s no. 1, there is no absolute no. 1. We always have room for enhancing our capacity. My heartfelt thanks to my coach who strives to highlight the areas for further improvement, in addition to the wholehearted assistance from my supporting team including my physiotherapist and teammates, I am aware of how to better train and equip myself before taking part in the next championships.
I was not quite keen on studying when I was small, and believed that I can stay grounded in society if I work hard upon finishing my secondary education. After I have become a full-time athlete and had exchanges with my coaches, however, I started to consider my current situation and realised that both work experience and credentials are equally important. I can’t simply receive training in badminton without progression in terms of my knowledge. The subjects such as sports science, nutrition, and biomechanics enable me to understand why I have to receive tough training from my coach’s perspective, and what particular effects are brought about by such training. What’s more, acquiring a qualification in physical education can help pave my career path in coaching and teaching in the future. At present, I don’t have any long-term goals. I just want to focus on my role as an athlete and will consider what I want to pursue after graduation.
Tony believes that there is no absolute no. 1 in competitions. He always reflects on his performance and expects to surpass himself.