Big heart propels resolute athlete

SINGAPORE - Despite being disqualified in his only event, Kevin Wong, 35, showed at the SPH Foundation National Para Swimming Championships yesterday that what really matters is a big heart.

Wong, who finished sixth in the shot put and javelin events at the ASEAN Para Games in Myanmar last year, took to the pool at Toa Payoh Swimming Complex for his first competitive swim in the 50m breaststroke event.

But it ended in disappointment as he was disqualified for accidentally pulling the lane rope.

The 35-year-old said: "I am slightly disappointed in myself for not reading up on the rules, but it is my first swimming competition, so I am also quite happy to have taken part and challenged myself."

An orthopaedic technician, Wong had a below-knee amputation on his right leg after a traffic accident in 2009 and channelled his energy towards sports to take his mind off his situation.

The bachelor, who made his shot put and javelin debut at the Singapore Disability Sport Council (SDSC) Track and Field Championships last year, is looking to widen his repertoire toreach loftier heights.

"I have archery training four times a week, and I am hoping to compete in archery, javelin and shot put at the Incheon Asian Para Games in October. There is a longer period for competitive archers, and I want to compete for a long time," said Wong.

He added that he started swimming twice weekly to improve his stamina, and is looking to strap on his prosthetic limb and run marathons in the future.

The championships, now intheir 33rd year, saw over 100 swimmers from 18 schools, special schools, associations and clubs take part in 20 events across four divisions and 15 classifications.

Aquatics Performance Swim Club topped the medal tally with 13 golds, while Delta Senior School were second with eight and the Deaf Sports Association finished third with seven.

National coach Jiao Yang said: "This competition acts as a time trial for the national athletes in lieu of the Asian Para Games, and it is a good experience for the juniors who are taking part."

Two teenage girls also made waves yesterday. Nicole Fu, a 14-year-old who participated in the Special Olympics last year, won three golds in the 50m events for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly, while promising 15-year-old Danielle Moi delivered gold in the 100m freestyle and breaststroke events. Danielle also helped her school APSN Katong to a silver in the 4x50m freestyle relay.

This article was published on May 11 in The Straits Times.

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