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All-nighters and violence are an everyday affair for this girl

Chan (left) putting her skills into practice in Paris.

9000 kilometres away from home, 25-year-old Adeline Chan is preparing to step onto the World Championship floor in Manchester.

Her competitors certainly have had better rest; just a week ago, Chan was pulling all-nighters to complete her Masters thesis at Hong Kong University before she embarked on her latest international campaign.

"I time myself 25 minutes intervals, so I would ask myself to work 25 minutes nonstop, and then take a 5 minute break to refresh my brain, and then dive into the 25 minute working spree again." Chan said.

"I refuse to let my standards drop just because I wanted to stubbornly do both things at the same time."

Both Chan's Taekwondo exploits and architectural pursuits have taken her to many places around the world, including the Pantheon in Rome.

Fast forward a week later, Chan is leading her fight against Norway but suddenly overcome with fatigue, she is struck within the last second.

"When I ran out of stamina, something told me it's because of those all nighters!" Chan said.

Defeated by one point, Chan faced a devastating loss.

"I believed in my ability, but I could only blame the fact that I didn't manage to keep my stamina throughout the fight." Chan said.

For many of us, choosing to do a Masters degree can be a difficult choice.

Yet for Chan, completing an architecture Masters degree at HKU while representing Hong Kong in international taekwondo competitions was a no-brainer.

Chan explains her project as part of her Masters requirements.

Typical contenders in these tournaments consist of professionals who train three times a day, following extensive year-long programs.

And without team sponsors or even a team doctor, Hong Kong was definitely the underdog in Manchester.

"We have our studies or full time jobs, trying to get through training day by day and still survive." Chan said.

"When I competed abroad, I found out that I have so much more to learn and improve if I am to ace in international games, because the competition out there is 10 times more vigorous than a local game." Chan said.

"I needed to spend more time and be a lot smarter in my training and strategies if I'm going to go up to the next level. So that's where I am at now."

Chan pictured with her final thesis - the culmination of years of hard work.

With a thesis to finish, Chan remained diligent.

"When I'm on my way to training after classes, I always do my readings or research on my phone. Sometimes I sketch my design ideas in my book so I can develop them later. After training, I write down what worked and what didn't in my training so I don't waste time next session repeating my mistakes." Chan said.

"I mean, I try to do all these things, but sometimes when I realize I'm totally burnt out, I actually let myself cry and do nothing, but I recover fairly quickly."

Before pursuing her professional career in both architecture and taekwondo, Chan had to work her way up in both ladders.

"When I was younger, I was training in dancing and swimming up until I was 13. However, I realized I'm really drawn to martial arts, partially because I was watching so many action movies." Chan said.

A regular Hong Kong representative, Chan is one of the best Taekwondo practitioners in the city.

"The closest place to learn was at my estate clubhouse, where there was a taekwondo class. I asked my parents for permission to join the class and it really started from there, beginning from the white belt."

When Chan got her black belt at 17, she was introduced to sparring.

"When I began sparring, I went around to other clubs in Hong Kong to train, and I started to love the sport even more. It was 2012 when I won the championship title in the Hong Kong Open, and that was the ticket to train in the Hong Kong team. For the next consecutive years, I continued to take up the championship title in Hong Kong." Chan said.

"Then I mainly spent my two years in between bachelors and masters focusing on the Olympic Qualifiers in 2016, which unfortunately didn't work out."

Chan's career in both fields has evidently reinforced her personal development.

According to Chan, taekwondo has facilitated her strength not only as an athlete, but also as a student.

"Taekwondo has really made me look into myself, in both the flaws and strengths. I realized that it was harder to remind myself of my strengths than my weaknesses, and it has been a challenge to be confident, especially in the moments before a fight, when I am suddenly have spurts of doubt." Chan said.

"I have been trying to say a mantra that reminds me of my capabilities. I think this applies in other scenarios, whenever I am about to do something important. For example, when I have to do a big presentation for my thesis, I find myself reminding myself to be confident and act with a clear head."

"It's really funny how the sport has defined me now."

Proudly finishing her thesis last month, Chan's taekwondo journey is not over yet - while aspiring to become an architect, Chan continues to work on her craft.

When facing her on the competition floor, you see not only full-time athlete who is committed to her careers, but a multi-tasker who's made both of her diverging professions complement each other.

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