HONG KONG: High-jumper Cecilia Yeung Man-wai hopes people can focus more on her sporting abilities rather than her appearance, with the Hong Kong record holder and part-time model proving a big hit with fans.
However, she admits that looks can be an advantage if it helps to promote sports and send a positive message to the community.
"Of course I don't want people to focus only on my appearance as I am a committed athlete who always strives to achieve the best result," said the 23-year-old University of Hong Kong student. "But if it can get more people to pay attention to sports and bring out the message of chasing your own dreams with a passion, like what I am doing in sports, it may not be a bad thing."
After smashing her own record by five centimetres in the Asian Grand Prix in Taipei a fortnight ago, the track and field starlet made her first appearance in domestic competition at Wan Chai Sports Ground on Sunday.
Hong Kong fans have fallen for Yeung and call her the "Goddess of Hong Kong sports" and her presence in the annual Hong Kong Championships attracted plenty of media attention.
The Amateur Athletic Association also invited three overseas athletes for the women's high jump, hoping the competition would push Yeung to make an impact in front of her home crowd.
In the end, Yeung managed to clear 1.81 metres, seven centimetres short of her own record, putting her behind Australian Hannah Joye's 1.87 metres, while the two other overseas jumpers – Thailand's Boonwan Wanida and Australia's Zoe Timmers – cleared 1.78 metres.
"I am very happy to see many people come to support me although I am not too happy with my performance," she said . "My form dropped a bit compared to the event in Taipei but it is still not a poor result.
"You cannot always ask your body to stay at its peak, especially after an exciting win in Taiwan. In fact, I have taken part in six events over a period of two months and it's the first time I've had such a hectic schedule."
Yeung said she would not compete again until late June when she takes part in the Inter-City Championships In Hong Kong followed by the Asian Championships in India and the World University Games in Taipei.
She said she would not be thinking too much about the London World Championships just yet because of the challenging qualifying mark of 1.94m. Instead, she will focus on consistently jumping higher than 1.85m in competition. – South China Morning Post