Beach volleyball and touch rugby met wushu and table tennis earlier this week as students from the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s (BoPP) high performance sport programme played host to four young elite athletes from Hong Kong.
Ho Ching Lee (Table Tennis), Wing Nam Ng (Table Tennis), Wing See Fung (Wushu – martial arts) and Man Yi (Zyvette) Kong (Swimming) are all students at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and were selected to travel to New Zealand after receiving a ZESPRI® Outstanding Junior Athlete Award (OJAA).
ZESPRI, alongside the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China and the Hong Kong Sports Press Association (HKSPA), sponsor the ZESPRI Outstanding Junior Athlete Awards (OJAA). The award recognises the achievement of local junior athletes under the age of 19, on a quarterly basis. The athletes were chosen from almost 40 OJAA recipients in 2009.
Kelvin Bezuidenhout, Market Manager of ZESPRI International (Asia) Limited said ZESPRI was delighted to sponsor the Outstanding Junior Athlete Awards.
“ZESPRI has a long history of partnership with local sports teams and personalities, and the health of children and young adults is one of our top priorities. Kiwifruit has been shown to be the most nutritious fruit in the world, and its benefits go hand in hand with exercise as we strive to promote a healthy, active lifestyle across Hong Kong."
After dining with some of the Polytech’s high performance athletes the night before, the Hong Kong athletes spent the morning at the BoPP where Mike Dudson, the Polytech’s High Performance Coach – Beach Volleyball, spoke to them about high performance sport in New Zealand and BoPP’s high performance sports programme, before they were taken on a tour of the campus by the students.
“This is a valuable experience for everyone involved. There is a real bank of elite sports knowledge across a number of disciplines which will serve the athletes from both countries well in their future pursuits,” Mr Dudson said.
Diploma in Sport and Recreation student, Sam O’Dea, whose achievements include winning gold in the men’s volleyball at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in January 2009, said he was looking forward to catching up with the Hong Kong athletes later this year when he passes through Hong Kong on his way home from the Volleyball World Under 21 championships in Turkey.
“The opportunity to learn more about their culture ahead of my international travel this year which will take me to Asia has been great.”
Man-yi Kong (Zyvette), who recently placed first in the women’s 50m and 100m breaststroke at the Asian Indoor Games, said she had enjoyed learning about some sports, such as netball and touch rugby, that she hadn’t really come across in Hong Kong.
“It has been a very valuable, eye-opening experience. New Zealanders have a healthy approach to sport; it is an essential part of life for most people here. I hope there will be a swimming competition in the near future that will allow me to come back to New Zealand,” she said.
The Hong Kong athletes arrived in New Zealand on Saturday 27 March and will depart on Thursday 1 April. The athletes will also meet New Zealand Commonwealth record holder for 200m butterfly, Moss Burmester, visit the ZESPRI Head Office, a kiwifruit orchard and packhouse, and enjoy a number of cultural and recreational activities.