Tam Hoi Hoon of Hong Kong


Tam Hoi Hoon of Hong Kong

As a very little boy, Tam Hoi Hoon loved to climb. He would climb streetlamps and even palm trees with his bare hands! His favorite class in preschool was gymnastics. At the time, the Tam family lived in Hawaii, where Brother Tam was studying at the university.

When his family moved back to Hong Kong, Hoi Hoon joined the Hong Kong Amateur Gymnastic Association. After joining the team, he won the 2001 Hong Kong Gymnastics Competition. Now age 10 and a member of the Aberdeen Ward, Hong Kong Island Stake, Hoi Hoon is setting an example through his gymnastics and his beliefs.

While gymnastics is fun for Hoi Hoon, it is also hard work. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, he and his parents travel by train an hour and a half to practices, then an hour and a half home. The practices are two or three hours long. Learning a new gymnastic move takes Hoi Hoon a month or two because he has to practice the move more than 500 times before it is perfect! But Hoi Hoon likes the children he works out with, and he loves to perform. Hearing an audience clapping and shouting makes him happy.

Hoi Hoon’s favorite gymnastic move is the backward somersault. He can do a somersault with two twists before landing! To do some of his moves he must be very brave.

In Chinese culture, parents give their children names with special meaning. This is true with the name Hoi Hoon. Hoi means “the sea,” and Hoon means “wide and spacious.” Hoi Hoon was given this special name because his father wanted him to be an understanding person whose capacity to care for and forgive others is as wide and deep as the sea.

Hoi Hoon works well with other people, so it is a good name for him. In gymnastics, he specializes in the men’s four, where he performs with three other boys. His coach chose this event for him because it requires special cooperation with gymnasts of different ages.

Hoi Hoon is the middle child of three children in the Tam family. His brother, Kwan Lam, 12, enjoys playing the piano, singing, and swimming. His sister, Hiu Yau, 4, likes to dance and read storybooks. “We are grateful to have three healthy and lovely children,” says Sister Tam. “Each one of them is special.”

The Tam children are good students, and the whole family stays busy during the week with schoolwork. When they have time to take a break, the family likes to go to the playground or ride bicycles near their home.

Hoi Hoon enjoys Primary, and he tries to be obedient to what he learns in his class. His favorite song is “I Am a Child of God.” As a child of Heavenly Father, Hoi Hoon believes in setting a good example and keeping the commandments.

In July 2001, Hoi Hoon was invited by the Hong Kong government to perform with other prominent gymnasts in the Chinese Gymnastic Gold Medalist Show. Then age 8, Hoi Hoon was the youngest participant.

All of the gymnasts were asked to attend a final rehearsal the Sunday before the performance. The Tam family knows it is important to keep the Sabbath Day holy, so Brother Tam told Hoi Hoon’s coach that Hoi Hoon would attend every other rehearsal—but not the one on Sunday. The coaches and officials were upset and thought about replacing Hoi Hoon with another boy. The Tam family would not change their minds, but they prayed every night in their family prayer that Hoi Hoon would be able to perform. In the end, the officials allowed him to be in the show. Even without the extra practice, Hoi Hoon did every movement perfectly. “I know that obeying the Lord is very important,” Hoi Hoon says.

Hoi Hoon’s coach, Chen Yu Tien, says there are several things that make Hoi Hoon a good gymnast: “He is willing to practice hard and to endure. His arms are strong and powerful, and he is enthusiastic.” But he says what makes Hoi Hoon most successful in gymnastics and everything else he does is the love and support of his family.

Hoi Hoon agrees. “I know Papa and Mama love me very, very much. And they pray for me, too,” he says. With that knowledge, he almost can’t help but live up to his name—in his family, in his sport, and in his life.

[photos] Photos courtesy of the Tam Family

[photos] Right: Hoi Hoon practices hard and sometimes he wins! Above: Hoi Hoon with his big brother, Kwan Lam (left), and his coach, Chen Yu Tien (right).

[photos] Above: The Tam family celebrates Hoi Hoon’s and Kwan Lam’s birthdays. Right: Hoi Hoon with one of the coaches.

[map] Map by Thomas S. Child