Biography: Puk Chi Yeung is a full-time taxi driver who in his spare time rows for the Hong Kong Rowing Paralympic Team. He won gold at the Asian Rowing Championships in 2007 and bronze at the Asian Paralympic Games in 2010.
How did you find out about the opportunity to join the Paralympics Rowing Program?
Originally, I actually participated in the kayaking program located beside the rowing program. One day, while kayaking on the river, I saw the rowing program and wanted a new challenge. I wanted to try something new, so I decided to join the Paralympics Rowing Program.
Can you describe in more detail about the Paralympics Rowing Program?
In rowing, there is solo rowing, 2 man rowing, 4 man rowing and 8 man rowing. As a Paralympics rowing athlete, we are allocated to which type of rowing depending on our physical condition.
What have you learned and experienced from this rowing opportunity?
First off, rowing has helped my health and fitness. This is extremely important, as my lack of movement opportunity due to my physical disability, along with my disability causing my muscles to weaken faster than normal people if not worked, makes it all the more vital that I play sports. Also, this opportunity has given me a sense of pride and confidence. I can forever say that I represented Hong Kong in an international competition. Lastly, the opportunity to travel worldwide to attend tournaments has open my perspective towards the world outside Hong Kong and allowed me to meet people from all over the world.
Can you please elaborate more on your experience competing overseas?
I was able to visit many countries including England, Germany, and Korea. While there, I felt like I was part of a greater community. Everyone there could relate to each other, as we all suffered from physical or mental disabilities, but were able to overcome them and become Paralympic athletes. Furthermore, I was able to make many life long friends that to this day I still keep in touch with. But most importantly, the organizers of these events made us feel as if we were professional athletes, not just disabled people playing sports. They offered us great eating, and living conditions, and made us feel important and respected. This really helped boost my self-esteem and confidence!
Can you talk about how you balance your life between your full time job being a taxi driver and being a Paralympian?
Being a taxi driver is perfect for me! I have flexible hours, and can stop my taxi for a few hours during the working day if necessary to come here and row. This unique relationship cannot be offered by office jobs, where I would have to sit at a desk for the whole day. So although I earn less money when I take time off from work to come row, it is totally worth it getting the opportunity to row, to improve my health, and most importantly to have fun. Lastly, driving a taxi requires a lot of energy and focus. Often after rowing, instead of feeling tired from the workout, I feel energized from the happiness of playing the sport I love.
What have you learnt while rowing that you have brought into your daily life?
The most important thing I have learnt is how rowing has changed my life around. I realized that sports can impact all areas of my life, and can have a profound impact on my happiness, confidence, and outlook on life. In the last few years, many of my other disabled friends after hearing my experience have also taken up rowing or other sports as a way to improve their life.