Bonkers in Honkers? Ming Yu doesn't think so

There are two reasons why Ming Yu Law’s Hong Kong friends think the 23-year-old is slightly crazy.

First, they think it absolute madness that she would step out of a dragon boat to pursue a career as a sprint canoeist. After all, dragon boat is very much part of the Hong Kong social fabric; canoe sprint is definitely a novelty.

Second, they don’t understand why Ming Yu Law is pursuing a sporting career at all. Why isn’t she focussed on earning her first million, they ask?

They are questions Ming Yu shrugged off in Duisburg this week at the ICF canoe sprint world cup, where she was competing in the women’s canoe events, including the grueling 5000 metres.

“My friends think it’s weird,” she said.

“Hong Kong is much more focussed on economy, so they think it is so stupid that because I am still young I am not focusing on getting more money, buying houses, lots of material stuff.

“If I get to the Olympics, everyone will change. They will all notice how amazing canoeing is, because at the moment it is not very popular.”

The Olympics would be the end goal for Ming Yu Law. She said if she got there she would die with no regrets. But her short term target is getting to the Asian Championship, maybe the Asian Games.

She concedes there is still a long way to go, but she’s definitely making progress. Ming Yu has been part of the International Canoe Federation’s Talent Identification Program (TIP), which focusses on athletes in countries where canoeing is still growing.

“I am so glad I could enter this program,” she said.

“They have helped me a lot with boat rental, planning, everything I need. So that’s why I’m here. Without their help I even cannot have a chance to participate at the world cup. So it is a great experience for me.

“I learned a lot. I get the experience of the competition, I trained with all the nice girls, and they are so sweet to me.”

It’s the community and camaraderie that Ming Yu is appreciating the most, especially over the past week in Duisburg. Paddling can be a pretty lonely experience in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong does not have many people paddling, just me and my other partner, just two people for Hong Kong paddling. So I am so glad to have a big team to paddle together,” she said.

She was enticed out of a dragon boat and into a canoe by her manager, who wanted her to be part of a push to develop canoeing in Hong Kong. That was about four years ago, and the sport’s progress has been slow.

There are reasonable facilities available, but the paddling conditions in Hong Kong is one of the factors keeping people away from the sport.

“I do have a good boat, but the weather cannot compare with Europe,” Ming Yu said.

“Europe is the best paddling place ever, they have so much good weather and facilities here. At home we paddle in a small channel. You can call it a river, but here is the best.

“But I never regret that I paddle canoe. It’s the best sport that I have ever done.”

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