【WHY NOT BOLD】Mom’s A Bit Busy Today: Interviewing Hayley Chan, Former Hong Kong Windsurfing Champion

I understand that life has various facets, so I’ve chosen not to be a full-time stay-at-home mom.
I also want to enrich other areas of my life.

For this interview, we met at Stanley Main Beach in Hong Kong. The beach was a bit messy after a Typhoon No. 10. Hayley rushed over in flip-flops, apologizing, “Sorry I’m late. My kid bumped his head right before I was about to leave, and threw a little tantrum about me going out.”

Taking care of a child under one year of age means every outing is a challenge. Throughout the conversation, Hayley, a new mom, often talks about her son. Even the reason behind her dreams and ambitions is to set a good example for him.

Hayley wears many hats : she’s a mom, a university student, an amateur wingfoil surfer, a member of the Hong Kong Sports Committee, and a part-time windsurfing coach. Even she loses track sometimes. When talking about each role, her face beams with enthusiasm. When she officially retired as a full-time windsurfing athlete on March 31 this year, her face was filled with a sense of loss. She reminisces about the joy she had as a part of a team and how much the sport meant to her. “Windsurfing has become everything to me. While there are many new challenges, I do deeply miss the happy times I had as part of a team.” Hayley, who represented Hong Kong in two Olympic Games and three Asian Games and achieved countless accolades in various international competitions, has dedicated most of her life to windsurfing. It has also brought her many unforgettable highlights. “Being a female athlete is not easy. The prime years of an athlete are limited, whether in terms of physical stamina or skill development. On the other hand, building a family, having children, or finding a partner actually requires time.” Despite the harsh reality, Hayley is not discouraged. A hero makes her own opportunities, and she has created her own unique value.

Life can be long or short. Since we have the opportunity to live, we should cherish these chances.

A previous setback in being selected for the Hong Kong Olympic team made Hayley consider retirement. A chance meeting with a former high school English teacher inspired her to be true to herself and value the opportunities she’s been given. This conviction made her decide to aim for the Tokyo Olympics, shaping who she is today.

After retiring, Hayley returned to college. She juggles the roles of “college student” and “mom” without backing down. She plans to explore various fields before graduating. As a member of the Hong Kong Athletes’ Committee, she will attend the International Athletes Forum in Switzerland, hoping to network with athletes from around the world.

When sharing her various roles, she’s most excited about wing foil surfing, a new type of water sport. She took time to detail the adjustments she needed to make technically and physically for this new sport. “I will continue to go out to sea and enjoy my hobby in my spare time.” she said.

“One of the most vivid moments since retiring as a full-time athlete was my first time coaching.” Hayley admitted. She finds coaching more nerve-wracking than competing. She emphasized that the support of her partner and family is crucial for her to comfortably chase her dreams.

Being true to yourself shouldn’t come at the expense of others. Balance in life and with those around you makes it easier and happier to pursue your dreams.

The sacrifices behind being true to oneself are inevitable. “Just like now, getting out of the house to practice here in Stanley takes a lot of effort. A lot of people need to fill in for me so I can be here on the beach pursuing my passion.”

Balancing relationships with those around her, especially while wearing so many hats, requires extra effort from Hayley. She’s already proficient in time management from her years as an athlete. She chooses to communicate openly with her partner and family, refusing to let conflicts simmer. Financially, transitioning from a full-time athlete with a salary to an amateur with expenses has been a tough mental adjustment for her. She’s had to work harder in other areas to generate income and fulfill her responsibilities as a mom and a wife. “In the end, I believe that if I do well, they will be happier for me. If I gave up my interests to focus solely on the family, they might not even approve, and I might not be as happy as I am now.” Hayley emphasizes.

If everyone had the chance to stay true to themselves, their interests, or their values, life would be a pursuit worth chasing.

If athletes stand as symbols of relentless grit and resilience, Hayley goes above and beyond to personify these traits. She not only navigates multifaceted roles and complex relationships with grace, but she also maintains unwavering loyalty to her dreams. Despite her humility and down-to-earth nature, there’s an undeniable intensity that comes through in her words.

A woman true to herself radiates beauty, one who holds that authenticity while maintaining equilibrium is all the more captivating.

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