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Sporting Legends Visit the HONG KONG SEVENS

The Hong Kong Sevens, the city’s premier sporting event, which was held on 5-7 April last month, was once again a smashing success, with 120,000 rugby fans jammed into Hong Kong Stadium over three exciting days of non-stop rugby action, entertainment and fun. Fiji – adopted by many Hong Kong fans as their own home team – won the tournament again, their 19th success in 44 tournaments.


This year, the Sevens was graced by the presence of several sporting legends who came as goodwill ambassadors for Laureus, the official charity of HK Sevens, an international organisation based in London that uses the power of sport to transform the lives of children and young people and to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage. A large cadre of sporting legends from all over the world have joined Laureus as ambassadors, giving their time and effort to promote these highly worthwhile causes. This year, schoolgirls from Laos were invited to Hong Kong, along with children with special needs from local schools, to attend the Sevens and take part in other activities.


Among the Laureus ambassadors attending the Sevens were Michael Johnson, one of the greatest track athletes of all time, and Li Xiao Peng, the Chinese gymnast who won four Olympic gold medals.


Michael Johnson, known for his upright running style and nicknamed “The man with the golden shoes”, is still the only athlete to have won the 200m and 400m events at any Olympics – in 1996, a hugely difficult task by any measure. He held the record for 200 metres and 400 metres for 12 and 17 years respectively until they were broken by Usain Bolt in 2008 and Wade van Niekerk of South Africa in 2016. He was part of the world record-winning 4x400 metres relay team in Stuttgart in 1993 – a record that still stands today. When reminded that he has never lost a race in all 16 major championship races over his career – no silver, no bronze – Johnson quipped “I have nothing against silver or bronze, I just don’t like them myself”.


Johnson, who has pretty much fully recovered from a recent stroke, recounts that “during recovery, it took me about 15 minutes to walk the 200 metres around the hospital block, a distance I could normally run in under 20 seconds. But I used the same focused and dedicated approach as in athletics to help with my recovery”. Johnson enthusiastically lauds the efforts of Laureus to use sports to help change disadvantaged children worldwide.


It’s fitting that Johnson is bringing that indomitable spirit and dedication to his personal recovery and the worthy cause of Laureus – a truly great champion indeed.


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