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The Blossoming of Wong Hang Cheong’s Artistic Cycling

The 25-year-old Wong Hang Cheong has created several ‘first-times’ for Macao’s artistic cycling field. A decision he made about a decade ago led him to become deeply immersed in this sport: once a martial arts athlete, he decided to give up martial arts training and chose to focus on the development of artistic cycling. After seven years of hard work, he finally became the first Macao athlete to be ranked as one of the top three athletes in the Cycling World Championships. Wong said that he found a considerable superiority in artistic cycling, and reminded the younger generation that once they have made a decision, they have to be responsible for themselves and strive for the best results.


Being responsible to oneself

Before his first encounter with artistic cycling in Summer Activities, Wong had been involved in martial arts training. He was a prize-winner, winning second place in the Men’s Youth Cudgel in the Asian Junior Wushu Championships. He also participated in the Busan Asian Games on behalf of Macao. At that point, he was still able to properly manage both martial arts and artistic cycling training. It was not until 2002 that practice for both sport activities required him to devote more time. He was thus forced to compare their respective prospects: “I choose artistic cycling as it enables me to make many new attempts as well as explore and develop my own advantages. In fact, whichever activity I pick is not the focus; the most important part is being responsible for my own decision. For a long time, I’ve been working very hard to be a competent artistic cyclist.”


Make no excuses

Artistic cycling has presented some difficulties throughout Wong’s 17 years of involvement. Constrained by venues, he has been required to ‘move’ to different places for training, which have negatively impacted his training schedule. He has been confronted with certain psychological barriers: “In the past, I ignored the importance of psychological qualities, which led to unsatisfactory results. I did not acknowledge such problems until I returned home from a competition in Hong Kong; it was also right before the Macao East Asian Games. And I had to ask for counselling assistance. In 2010, I finally understood that the true meaning and significance of competition does not lie in the number of gold medals won by an athlete; I was thus enlightened and resolved the problems that had been bothering me for so long.” Wong added: “For the first batch of local athletes there was a lack of technical support. A number of movements were created by my coach and I through continuous attempts. This enabled me to understand that when we encounter problems, we should try our best to resolve them without excuse.”


All in the heart

Lou Lan Fong and Lou Weng Meng, coaches of the cycling team representing Macao, and Jose, a German coach who twice ranked second as the world’s second best artistic cyclist, all played crucially important roles within Wong’s artistic cycling path, transforming him from a beginner to ranking 3rd in the world. Wong said: “Lou Lan Fong and I were like father and son, with Lou Weng Meng coaching me since I was a child, and I respect them from the bottom of my heart.” As for German coach Jose, Wong said frankly, “He was once the world's top athlete and now carries on his skills through coaching. He believes in me more than I believe in myself; he always keeps encouraging me.”


Unforgettable Lou Lan Fong

Lou Lan Fong passed away early this year and Wong was very upset: “He loved every athlete. He was stubbornly persistent about ‘fairness’, believing that all athletes should have the same opportunity for development. Such an attitude is certainly worthy of our respect.” Wong finds himself shouldering a larger responsibility following the loss of his coach and is expected to contribute more to the next generation of athletes.


Looking forward to a rising star

Wong has won the bronze medal in the Cycling World Championships twice and the gold medal in the Asian Cycling Championships, thereby creating several records for Macao’s ‘first-times’ in artistic cycling. After spending 17 years in the sport, he decided to retire following the Asian Championships. Currently involved in the administrative work of the Macao Cycling Association, Wong says: “I’m looking forward to seeing another rising star.”


Retired early this year

Taking into account factors such as age and ability, Wong decided to step behind the scenes: “I know that both the Macao Cycling Association and Macao Sport Development Board have invested a lot of resources in me, which were far more than they invested in other young athletes one or two years ago; I do not know how many resources I need in order to progress upward from the world’s number 3, so I think it is better to give those resources to younger competitors for training. Consolidating the foundation of young athletes is crucial in order to strive for the better development of a single sport event in the future.”


Hope to strengthen training for young athletes

Pertaining to the prevailing situation of artistic cycling in Macao, Wong finds the situation relatively unhealthy, noting with a sigh: “There was not much training for young athletes in the early years in Macao but other regions experienced progress. Take Hong Kong as an example: its foundation is strong and it is competitive to a considerable extent in international competition. In Macao, however - apart from Kuan Sok Mui and me - the scores of other competitors are not very favourable. If we address the issue in a timely manner, it is possible that we can reduce the threat posed by neighbouring regions. Currently, more youths are interested in this sport and are willing to put more effort in compared to the old days.”


Assisting with full effort

Working side by side with his coach over the years, Wong has achieved outstanding results in addition to winning recognition from outside Macao. Wong evaluates himself as if he has completed a mission impossible. After retiring, this No.1 competitor in Macao disclosed: “I am not particularly interested in training new athletes; instead I hope to be a referee. Yet, there is no examination for a referee licence with respect to international artistic cycling in Macao. Whenever the team needs me, I will try my best to co-ordinate with them. I am currently responsible for the team’s administration works in addition to arranging screening and formulating schedule and itinerary for athletes who journey outside Macao to join competitions, thereby helping them with my personal experiences.” Wong concurrently works as a martial arts referee and coach, adding: “I have a passion for martial arts to a certain extent. After all, I have invested time in them.”


Facing reality

Artistic cycling has brought great benefits to Wong, from winning gold and silver medals to learning how to deal with stress in life and time management. Speaking of the expectations of new players, this No.1 competitor hopes that they will take training seriously and attentively, whilst remaining committed to artistic cycling: “Participation in sports should not only target gold medals, as factors such as time, place and people are also important. Overly stressing winning prizes blinds one to the neglect of all other issues. However, one must also accept the reality of competition because it is rather difficult to continue if one is unable to obtain satisfactory results. Athletes must strive to achieve both, spontaneously transforming their lives.”