The “Lady Gaga of Hong Kong squash”, resplendent in a bright-yellow tiger suit, strutted her stuff in the glass-enclosed courts of Happy Valley yesterday – all in the name of charity.
The annual Wing Ding squash tournament, now in its 15th year, is one of the most anticipated – and colourful – fundraisers on the local sporting calendar. This year’s edition of the fancy-dress squash marathon didn’t disappoint, with some of the most outlandish outfits yet.
Local star Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin, who won gold for Hong Kong at the 2002 Asian Games in South Korea and had a career-high world ranking of 13 in 2007, was one of 140 players hotfooting it across the courts at the Hong Kong Football Club to raise cash for Operation Santa Claus.
“In a sporting way, she’s the Lady Gaga of squash in Hong Kong,” event organiser Tim Everest said.
“The fact that she’s taking part secures our future as an event because younger people are going to want to follow her example.”
Chiu played in the tournament for the first time last year, and this year she captained a team called “Becky’s Babes”.
“It’s fun and we can raise money for people who need it,” said Chiu, 34.
She said the event’s format – each player takes part in 13 three-minute games in a row and tries to win as many points as possible – was not for the faint-hearted.
“It’s quite intense, and I find it difficult too,” she joked.
One of the players stepping up to the service line was Elliot Froidevaux, 38, wearing a neon-purple wig and cartoonish goggles. “It can be a struggle when you’re running around for 40 minutes non-stop.”
He said the event was particularly touching because it raised money for local projects that helped the needy. “It’s about not taking yourself too seriously for a serious cause.”
The fundraiser is dedicated to the late Yuen Kam-wing, a physically disabled man who used to work at the Squash Centre in Admiralty. He died at a young age from complications related to his condition.
The tournament – which organisers hope will raise HK$2 million this year – first took place in 1998.
Since 2004, it has raised HK$6 million for Operation Santa, a fundraising campaign jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.
This year, Operation Santa is raising funds for 18 charities.
Projects will benefit young and elderly people, those with medical issues and people with mental or physical disabilities. Last year the campaign raised a record HK$18.8 million.
How you can give
- Donate online by credit card at osc.scmp.com