Ken Cheng - Coach Director, Hong Kong Rope Skipping Club
Innovation Stems from Failure
“Failure itself is not fearful, but fear for failures is the most fearful thing indeed.”
Newly entering his 30s, Ken Cheng is the founder of a decade-old company, and he has led Hong Kong Rope Skipping Delegation to score success in many world championships whilst breaking world records. Despite the laurels he has earned as a champion coach, Ken pointed out with modesty that all his accomplishments have come from past failures.
Ken, known as “Ken Sir”, fell in love with rope skipping when he was a junior secondary school student. As the sport was not popular back then in Hong Kong, making his dream a reality was a great challenge. After graduation, Ken Sir worked as a rope skipping assistant coach, earning a mere monthly salary of several thousand dollars. This woke him up to the difficulties in promoting the sport. “Skipping was generally regarded as a game, not a sport. With unstable income, some coaches were even advised by their families to ‘find a decent job’.”
Innovation Happens Upon the 101st Failure
Zealous in rope skipping, Ken Sir refused to lose heart. By the age of 21 in 2009, he decided to establish a company named “Hong Kong Rope Skipping Club” with friends, officially holding classes and constantly advocating the benefits of rope skipping at schools. “Rope skipping can strengthen cardiopulmonary function. The requirement for synchronisation and coordination helps cultivate team spirit as well. The sport itself does not need a lot of space, making it very suitable for Hong Kong’s environment.”
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Delegation kept scaling new heights in world competitions. In the 2014 World Championship, Ken Sir’s student, Ho Chu-ting, became the first male Chinese to claim the champion title for rope skipping. The Delegation went on to break the world record of Male Double Dutch Speed Relay and won the Male Team Overall Championship for the third time in the 2016 World Championship in Sweden. Team member Chow Wing-lok emerged as the first Chinese to win the world championship for Single Freestyles, earning international glory for Hong Kong.
Dubbed “Monster Coach” by students, Ken Sir revealed the keys to success—strenuous training and innovative attempts. Drawing similarity between rope skipping and life, he said, “Unlike running or long jump, rope skipping takes place on the same ground most of the time and repeats the same movement. Each new set of movements begins with getting tripped by the rope. We might have to fall 100 times before we finally acquire the trick at the 101st trial.”
Sports Can Be Integrated into Business and the Community
As rope skipping gradually gains awareness and favour from the public, many corporates such as BMW and Hermès are eager to cooperate with the Hong Kong Rope Skipping Club in events. Ken Sir has also been invited to participate in various performances and charity projects, such as voluntary teaching of rope skipping to visually impaired persons and underprivileged groups for the promotion of social inclusion.
With his innovative approach, Ken Sir has succeeded in infusing his personal ardour for rope skipping to the training of elite athletes. Also through commercial sponsorship and community care activities, rope skipping has now been made Hong Kong people's pride and favourite sport. The experience has clearly manifested the concept of social innovation. Even though the path towards success is not all roses, Ken Sir always likes to cheer up his team before competitions: “Failure itself is not fearful, but fear for failures is the most fearful thing indeed.” Each successful innovation always stems from failure.