An Interview with Eddie H. K. Wong
Eddie H. K. Wong (1961 to 1968) was active in track and field, football and other sports at WYK. He was recently interviewed by Tim Kwan (1961 to 1969) on his track and field experience at WYK.
1. Eddie, which were your events at track and field?
I mostly ran 100, 200 meters and 4 x 100 relay, but also did triple jump at our school’s track meet because we were required to have both track and field in the three events we participated. I guess it was meant to encourage us to try both.
2. How did you get started?
I think I inherited my love for sports from my father. As a little boy he often took me and my brothers to see a football game. The stadium was always packed and I was thrilled at seeing the players in colorful jerseys running around in the green field. I started to read about the game on newspapers and then I got interested and read the whole sports page, enjoying the analyses and the stories of the players and their achievements.
On entering Wah Yan and like everyone else, I spent a lot of time after school playing football in the sand field, and on the way I often noticed the school’s track team practicing in the grass field. They looked so smart in their green track suit that I wished I could be like them one day.
I participated in the school meet but did not do well in the early years. And then in the summer of 1964, a classmate and I joined a track and field youth training camp organized by South China Athletic Association, and it opened the door for me. Returning to school after that summer I collected my first medals in the school meet in all three events I took part. My third place finish in 100 meters also landed me a spot in the school’s B grade relay team.
3. Did you run every year?
Yes, I enjoyed all kinds of sport activities and we were fortunate that our school had a variety to offer as well as excellent facilities for our training and development.
4. How did you practise?
I have to say practicing track and field is rather monotonous and even lonely at times. We did a lot of sprinting drills mostly dashing the length of the grass field. We had to run laps also to develop endurance but not so much as required for long distance runners. Occasionally to spice up the practice we ran all the way up the sloped car-way adjacent to the grass field or climbed the steps to the church to further build our strength and stamina. We also practiced baton passing which was a key part of the relay race.
5. I still remember you were the fastest coming off the block. That is, you almost always lead in the first 30 metres. How did you do it?
I don’t really know. I guess I was quick reacting to the gun. My lower body strength probably made it easier for me to stay low coming out of the block so that I could gather momentum faster. However, I usually didn’t have the strength to last the full distance and tended to drop off towards the end of the race.
6. Which events did you represent WYK on the school track team?
Mostly 4 x 100 meters relays. We won gold medals in this inter-school event for two consecutive years in B grade but were not strong enough when we moved up to A grade and had to settle for third and second place finish in my last two years with the school. I also got a silver medal in the inter-school B grade 100 meters and that was my best individual effort.
7. Where did those meets take place?
Our own school meets used to take place at the Mong Kok stadium, I think where the current Mong Kok football stadium is located. When I was in Form 4 the meet was held at the school for the first time and we had lanes chalked up on the grass field. The annual inter-school event in those years was held at the old Hong Kong stadium. It has been pulled down and replaced by the current modern stadium that no longer has a track running around it. The A grade relay team got to represent the school in invitation relays hosted by other schools so we had the opportunities to run on the grounds of DBS, KG5 and HKU. We did quite well one year winning six out of eight races and placing second in the other two.
8. Who were your teammates?
Our star performer in those years was Peter Yuen Kwong. He initially ran 100 and 200 meters and later extended to 400 meters which proved to be his strongest event. He was only a Form 2 boy when he first made a name in the inter-school circle. Peter was one year my junior. I was lucky to be on the same relay team with him for four years.
In my first year with the school B grade relay team, the team also included Lam Kin Ping and Chu Kin Cheung. That year we won the inter-school race quite easily with a time of 47.5 seconds. Yuen Kwong started the race because he was not good at receiving the baton. I ran second leg, the straight line. Chu was the more senior and experienced and he did the curve on third. Lam, the most muscular of us, ran the anchor leg.
The next year Chu and Lam were replaced by Lau Po Kwong (hence we were dubbed the three Kwongs of Wah Yan) and Siu Sin Por. We won the same event a second year with even better time equaling the B grade record of 46.8 seconds. Yuen still started, Lau and Siu did second and third leg and I had the honor to cross the finish line.
The same team moved up to A grade the next year and we also had Philip Chan on the team. We finished third in the inter-school event. Three of us were in Form 5 that year and we had to prepare for the school certificate examination and had less time for practice.
Somewhere along, we also made a change in our rotation. We decided that Yuen should be our anchor with his strong finish and I should start instead. We practiced hard on the new baton change order and our efforts were rewarded. In my final year we were second behind DBS in the inter-school race but clocked in a time of 45.4 seconds which was WYK’s best ever at the time.
I should mention that when I was in B grade we also had a very strong A relay team comprising of Lee Kwok Yui, Tang King Shun, Kwok Siu Tong and Johnny Ng Yat On. They were all multi-talented athletes representing the school in many sports, and were the big brothers I looked up to when I was in lower forms.
9. What did you enjoy most in track and field?
There are plenty, obviously the winning moments and the medals we collected. But the most memorable was my last inter-school relay race. We only finished second but everyone was ecstatic as we never thought a sub 46 second race was ever possible for us. I’m sure that record has been broken many times since.
I also have vivid memories of our cheering schoolmates at the stadium spectator stand and the thunderous “WAH YAN KING” coming from them as we crossed the finish line. They were not the biggest group but to our ears their chanting came through loud and clear.
In the spring of 1966 we were invited to run before Princess Margaret during her visit to Hong Kong. I felt like I was running an Olympic race in front of a capacity crowd at the Hong Kong Stadium. We finished second on that day.
One year after winning an invitation relay hosted by St. Joseph College, we were each awarded a lovely golden statuette but I accidentally dropped and broke mine. Philip Chan was so kind to give me his, saying he already had the same prize from the previous year. I still have that statuette today, as well as the memory of kindness and generosity from a teammate. We saw each other again after many years in a recent dinner gathering of fellow old boys.
10. It is more than forty years later. Do you still participate in sports?
I played football quite regularly until about two years ago when I found it increasingly straining on the body. Also most friends that I used to play with have one by one retired from the game. I think I can still enjoy some minutes of leisurely paced football if I get a chance to play. I am also starting to learn tennis and hope to get to a level that I can play regularly with some friends. Regardless of age we all need to find ways to continue exercise both body and mind to keep on enjoying life.