Para-Athletes Are Given Equal Opportunities To Perform Better

By Charity Chan

Being our nation’s 50th year of independence, 2015 started off with a bang, specifically in June where our Team Singapore athletes performed tremendously well at 28th SEA Games on home ground. What better way to end the year with another significant sports event, later this December?

An athlete who has been to the ASEAN Para Games (APG) for all seven occasions is Theresa Goh who is looking forward to the event, as Singapore is the host for this year’s games. This biennial event features 15 sports for athletes with disabilities.  

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“I want to enjoy the moment and see the people I know supporting me,” said the Paralympian who has won gold for all her events since her first APG when she was 14 years old.

The veteran swimmer recently started training full-time ever since she was awarded the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) last December.

The scholarship supports the athlete both financially and training wise in order to prepare them important sports competitions. This is one of the ways that the community and sports council have contributed in showing their support to the para-athletes, encouraging them to train harder and reach their fullest potential.

She shared: “The fact that they opened it to both able-bodied athletes and para-athletes is something I could not have dreamed of 10 years ago.”

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Having devoted more than half of her life in swimming, the 28-year-old has seen an improvement of the support given to para-sports scene over the years in terms of media coverage. Roughly ten years ago, articles featuring para-sports were put in the Home section of the newspaper instead of the Sports section. The media made it seem that para-sports was not real sports, which could influence the public’s perspectives on para-sports scene.


“It is sometimes hard for people to see because the first thing they notice is wheelchair and they can’t remove (that image) or some people see what para-athletes are do as rehab sports and not competitive sports but now there is way more support from the media and everyone,” said Theresa who shared that she recently finished shooting a music video for the upcoming APG.

Even if the public has yet to comprehend how professionally trained these para-athletes are, she firmly believes that the world number one able-bodied swimmer is comparable to the fastest para-athlete swimmer as both are strongest in their own field.  

Currently she is training for the APG and Rio 2016 Paralympics. “For me, it is a lot easier to focus on my techniques and very specific parts of my training rather than the killer sessions previously,” said Theresa, recalling the strenuous 13 training sessions per week she had during her past years training for Beijing.

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Despite going through multiple setbacks such as her unexpected defeat at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing and her shaky journey in finding back the passion she had for swimming, right now her love for the sport is now at its peak. “It took really long but now I know what I enjoy doing,” said the paralympian who has been swimming competitively for over 16 years.

Where does she see herself in five years time?

She replied: “In 2020 I want to be in Tokyo, in the best shape of my life and I want to be as happy as I am right now or even happier.”

The 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG) will be held in Singapore on 3rd to 9th December 2015. Click here to find out more.

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