Riding career is a galloping success
Hong Kong’s successful hosting of the equestrian event at the 2008 Olympics proved to be a major turning point in the career of Angela Kong Ka-fung.
She had enjoyed a great deal of success working in the IT industry as a marketing specialist. But after Hong Kong was named host city for the Olympic equestrian event, Kong decided to leave her well-established position to promote the sport of equestrianism because of her passion for riding.
Now, as the general manager of the Hong Kong Equestrian Association, she looks forward to continually improving the level of the sport in Hong Kong.
Why do you love riding so much?
I loved horses from a young age. I used to draw pictures of them for fun!
Immediately after graduating, I joined courses to learn how to ride. I had to hide my equipment and notes about riding from my family because they viewed riding as a risky sport and would certainly have kept me away from it.
But I could not keep my secret for long. A year after I had learned to ride, I emerged as champion in a riding competition, I was so happy I no longer cared if they found out. I just simply had to display my trophy at home.
However, my family still did not like me going riding. It was not until 2008, when my mother attended the launch ceremony of a book I had written about equestrianism, that she finally understood my passion for the sport. Now she is totally fine with me riding.
How did you successfully promote the sport?
Before the Olympics, Hong Kong people knew very little about the sport so the first step was promoting it through education. In 2008, I wrote a book called Equestrian Sports, published by Sun Ya Publications (HK), the first-ever book on equestrian education to be written by a local writer.
I also prepared an education kit, with CDs and booklets, that was handed out to physical education teachers across Hong Kong. I also invited teachers to seminars that I hosted, for them to learn more about the sport.
In 2010, I wrote two bilingual education booklets on equestrianism, Galloper Kids and Galloper Teens, for members of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
What was it like at the Olympics?
I was in charge of commentating during the events. Another of my duties was to provide support for the Hong Kong equestrian team. Some local riders are non-Chinese speakers so I had to act as their translator during press conferences, and also prepare press materials.
I graduated with a degree in translation and interpretation from City University of Hong Kong, but had never worked in the field before, so it was a perfect chance for me to make use of what I had learned at school.
What do you see in the future development of equestrianism?
The government gave equestrianism a huge boost by listing it as an elite sport. I think the Hong Kong team has also performed extremely well in various tournaments and that has helped the development of the sport tremendously.
Since the Olympics, I have seen the popularity of riding rise year after year. In 2007, 15 schools signed up for the riding school visit programme. Now we have 80 schools showing interest.
How does riding help you balance between work and life?
I have to handle a lot of pressure from working on a daily basis, and riding certainly helps me blow off steam. When I am on horseback I am 100 per cent focused – otherwise I will fall. When I am riding I am able to put all the problems and stress from work behind me. This does not mean that I am escaping from my problems. Instead, riding helps me solve them. After riding for an hour or two, my mind is relaxed and I am ready to tackle the problems again.