Christy Yiu: Let me become your greatest support

Christy Yiu, Olympic athlete
Christy Yiu, Olympic marathon runner

“This time, let me take the turn to wait for you at the finish line and be your greatest support.”

I am Olympic runner Christy Yiu

In the Rio Olympics 2016, Christy Yiu achieved a spectacular result by finishing 39th in the women’s marathon. After the race, however, she said she wanted to take less training and resume her previous occupation: nurse.

Stepping down at the height of the career does not mean giving up dream. Instead, it implies moving on to the next stage of life, running to a different destination.

Four years ago, Christy Yiu’s husband, Chan Ka Ho, who was also a long-distance runner, was injured in training and thus stopped participating in any races. Since then he had been organising training sessions for athletes and taking care of his family, so as to support his wife to join the Olympic games.

“In the past, I used to practise running once a week. Then the practice became more and more intensive that the daily training would be equivalent to that I normally did in a few weeks. Apart from overwhelming training sessions, I also needed to meet people’s expectations… At that time I was on the verge of breaking down because of all the mental and physical stresses.”

Before that, Christy was only an amateur runner. The painful days of converting to a full-time runner still remain fresh in her memory.

Having a husband good at massage and housework

Christy switched her role from a nurse to a full-time runner and kept pushing her body to extreme limits, all in pursuit of her Olympic dream. How did her husband, Ka Ho, who was also an outstanding long-distance runner, help her pass through all the barricades?

Christy turns her bitter smile to a sweet one and says, “Ka Ho was in fact my coach. Because of running, we often argued with each other, but he also kept supporting me in his own way. I remember he asked me to stay focus on running, while he would take care of everything in the future.”

In Hong Kong, being a professional athlete is a very high-pressure job. Ka Ho undertook much of the pressure for Christy. Apart from massaging her wife’s stressed muscles, Ka Ho also did all household chores. After his coaching, he would purchase all daily necessities in supermarkets and markets. Dedicated to helping his wife pursue her dream, he asked for nothing in return.

In the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon held in January this year, Christy had joined the full race. To give her a surprise, Ka Ho secretly joined the 10 km race to “accidentally” meet his wife at the finish line. How can’t Christy help loving her heartwarming and supporting husband from head to toe?

My job motivation – becoming his sturdiest backup
Christy Yiu: My job motivation – becoming his greatest support

The handover ceremony with Ka Ho

We may pursue different things at our various stages of life. After finishing the races at Rio Olympics, Christy decided to step down at the height of her career and work as a part-time nurse. She also thought of having kids.

“When one fully engages in training, the other half must make money for the family,” says Christy. “This is a handover ceremony. Now it’s my turn to take on all the responsibilities.”

Christy has retreated in order to swap the roles with her husband, who would resume his training in order to achieve good results in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The couple now hope to enter the marathon race track together, instead of Christy joining the race alone.

Christy is a small woman with the height of 1.53m. But when talking about supporting her husband, she suddenly appears much taller. While she was training hard for Olympics, she kept encouraging herself by reading different human stories. “This time, I want to make use of my own story to encourage Ka Ho in the race track and help him break his personal record again.” Christy may just be smiling when saying this, but in her voice is a strongminded commitment.

It no longer matters to keep running or to stop.

To Christy, the most important of all is that there is someone who is willing to run with her ever after.