Singapore para-athletes gunning for glory

Singapore para-athletes gunning for glory
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu interacts with para-athletes such as swimmer Yip Pin Xiu (right) and sailor Yap Qian Yin (third from left), and Teo-Koh Sock Miang (second from right) at the Team Singapore camp yesterday at the Singapore Sports Institute.
PHOTO: The New Paper

He struck gold in the 800m at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Greece.

While that victory ranked as one of the highlights of his athletics career, making the podium at next month's ASEAN Para Games in Singapore will be extra special for Suhairi Suhani.

After all, this is the first time the 18-year-old student with intellectual disability will be competing at home and he hopes the support from his countrymen can spur him to glory.

He will be competing in two events - the 400m and the long jump in the T20 category for athletes with intellectual disability.

Athletics is one of 15 sports which will be contested from Dec 3-9.

"I will put up a fight as the Games are on home ground and it's my first time competing in Singapore," said Suhairi, who will be competing in his second ASEAN Para Games. He did not win any medals in the T20-100m, F20-long jump and T20-4x100m in his first outing in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, last year.

Athletics is not the only sport he excels in.

Suhairi also won two golds in the 222m and 333m races, as well as a bronze in the 111m event for speed tracking at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

However, he eventually decided to focus on his passion - athletics.

Despite having to juggle both his studies and training five days a week, he has set his sights on bettering his personal bests of 56 seconds in the 400m and 6.5 metres in the long jump.

And after finishing outside the medals at the last ASEAN Para Games, he is more determined to make the podium this time round.

"I saw how the athletes (from other countries) ran, and I realised that they were more talented than me. So when I came back to Singapore, I asked my coach to train me more," he said.

"The Malaysians will be my main rivals, but I'll just focus on what my coach taught me - the techniques and the movement. Hopefully, I'll get to win a medal. The colour of the medal doesn't matter."

Suhairi was one of five para-athletes who attended yesterday's Sport Without Boundaries Roadshow at Pasir Ris Sports Centre, where members of the public tried some of the sports at next month's Games, including goalball and boccia.

Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, mingled with the athletes and took part in modified table tennis and bowling at the roadshow.


"I know that a lot of effort has been put into the preparations and I have every confidence in our team," she said.

"I think we will do a very good job at hosting the Games and I am also very confident that our Team Singapore athletes will do us all proud."

Marc Chiang, captain of Singapore's first goalball team at the Games, is taking the pressure in his stride.

"We may be new to the sport, but we have been training hard on our strategies," he said. "We are very confident that we will deliver."

This article was first published on Nov 9, 2015.
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