APG2015: Athletes Capturing The Hearts Of Singaporeans

By Ignatius Koh

As the curtains fall after the conclusion of the 2015 ASEAN Para Games (APG), the event will be remembered for the athletes’ passion and commitment despite the odds. Singapore’s record haul of 24 golds, 17 silvers and 22 bronzes capped a fine performance from the first-time hosts as the athletes surpassed all expectations.

While veterans Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu dominated the pool, the rest of the Republic’s contingent pulled their weight to help achieve a fifth place finish.

SportSanity brings you the top five local athletes from the APG who captured the hearts of the nation over the past week.

 

Zac Leow


Photo credit: Zac Leow Facebook 

After a cycling accident left him paralysed two years ago, doctors told Leow he would not be able to walk or run again. The incident did not stop the middle-distance runner from clinching silver in the men's 1,500m T37 for Singapore's first athletics medal at the APG since 2011.

Setting a personal best timing of 5min 44.49sec, Leow epitomised the ‘never say die’ spirit and proved that determination could overcome any obstacle.

While he was delighted by his achievement, Leow believed that he could have won, showing his drive to succeed.

“I was a little sad because I really wanted to win the gold and hear the national anthem played.”

 

Kalai Vanen


Photo credit: www.myactivesg.com

Powerlifter Vanen lifted 140kg on his first try, paving his way to a bronze medal in the men's up to 97kg class despite failing his second and third attempt.

The APG debutant lost his left leg when he was 29 due to cancer but it did not stop him from earning himself a medal.

Vanen did not expect to win a medal but his determination shone in the end and he said: “But now, I feel really excited to win Singapore's first medal in powerlifting and tears came to my eyes when I saw my flag go up.”

 

Jason Chee


Photo credit: Yew Wah Ow

Navy Serviceman Chee, along with his team, delivered Singapore’s first ever gold medal for table tennis in the APG.

Chee led the men's team to a 3-1 victory over Thailand in a thrilling finale which saw Singapore recovering after falling behind.

Losing both his legs and his left arm in a ship accident in 2012, Chee turned to table tennis and returned with a bronze medal in the 2014 APG. This time, he reached the top.

 “This is the greatest achievement of my sports career,” said Chee.

 

Suhairi Suhani


Photo credits: www.myactivesg.com

After finishing fifth in last year’s APG, Suhairi made it a point to stand on the podium and he did it by jumping a centimeter further than Indonesia’s Fadli Amirullah.

With a personal-best mark of 6.66m for silver in the men's long jump F20 final, Suhairi’s result met the qualifying mark for next year’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Despite being diagnosed with intellectual disability at the age of five, Suhairi’s passion for track and field saw him clinch second place through his hard work and dedication.

He said: “The ASEAN Para Games is just the beginning. I want to jump further and run faster.”

 

Cerebral Palsy Football Team


Photo credit: www.todayonline.com

Led by their inspirational captain Khairul Anwar, the Singapore Cerebral Palsy fought their way to a bronze finish at the APG.

With Khairul shouldering the bulk of the scoring burden in the group stages with several stunning long range goals, the rest of the team produced a stellar performance in the third place play-off to bring home the bronze medal.

Bringing close to 3,000 supporters to their feet is no easy task but the players showed their mettle and evoked memories of the Kallang Roar during each game.

Coach Mohamed Zainudeen, the mastermind of the team’s success, said: “We are a national team. I hope others will recognise us this way too and we can start to dream of the gold.”

 

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