King of the string

When Matthew Poon was 10, he begged his father for a toy from his favorite cartoon. It wasn’t a Transformer, Ninja Turtle or a Power Ranger.
It was a yo-yo.
Today, Poon is a SCC student and a national yo-yo competitor. He has competed in cities all over the world, from Prague to Tokyo, and in October will be competing nationally as the 2016 Pacific Northwest regional champion.
Poon came to the U.S. from Hong Kong 3 years ago as a high school exchange student. After spending a year at Roosevelt High School, he then came to SCC, where he started pursuing a degree in food science.
“I chose food science because of an ice cream commercial,” he said. “I was watching an ice cream commercial on Youtube, and I was like ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if I could create all that ice cream with different flavors?’ And that’s basically how I got into food science.”
Ice-cream aside, Poon realized he could become a serious yo-yo competitor after ranking first in the preliminary round at his second competition, after he’d been playing for 4 years. “That was when I thought ‘huh! I’m actually good at this stuff!’”
Now, he’s more than simply ‘good at this stuff.’
Aside from being seeded to compete at nationals – something only given to regional champions – he has also won competitions in Hong Kong and competed in six countries internationally.
Poon said he finds joy in the sheer number of possible tricks a yo-yo offers.
“The combinations and variations of tricks are limitless.” he said. “Even if you create a hundred tricks today, there will still be many other tricks waiting for you the next day.”
He also said playing yo-yo helped him become more confident and less shy. This he attributes to performing in front of giant crowds, like the 1200 people he performed in front of last year when he returned to Roosevelt to show off his skills. According to him, great performance only comes from a performer with confidence.
Another bonus, he said, is the opportunity to build a global social circle by meeting new people at contests all over the world.
Martin Sanchez, one of two technical judges at the Pacific Northwest Regionals, spoke very highly of Poon. “He is fiercely talented,” Sanchez said. “He has a really great mix of tricks, between going fast then doing slower, more artsy, more interesting tricks.”
Yet Sanchez said Poon’s showmanship and cleanliness could still use some improvements.
“He missed a few things,” Sanchez said. “And then he would just drop out of it, making it pretty obvious that he had messed up. If you just continued on and then improvised out of it, it wouldn’t be so obvious.”
For example, Sanchez said Poon has some incredible string formation tricks, but he didn’t show it off to the audience and give them enough time to appreciate them before he moved on.
Poon said he’s working on showmanship, but he’s not nervous about the upcoming national tournament.
“I would like to win, but that was never my main focus when I was competing,” he said. “I’m just trying to just showcase my tricks, have fun out there and put on a good show.”

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