She wins medals 6 months after getting hit by lorry

After she suffered a cycling accident in October 2014, doctors told the triathlete that her mobility would be affected and that she might not be able to compete as she used to.

But despite being bedridden and then wheelchair-bound, Miss Jeremia Christy Suriadi, 19, was determined to get back to the sport she loves.

Six months later, she achieved just that by coming in second in a swimming competition.

Miss Christy had been cycling on her usual route to Seletar Aerospace Park for training on Oct 6, 2014, when she was hit by a lorry along Woodlands Avenue 12.

The then-Singapore Sports School Year 1 International Baccalaureate student lost consciousness and woke up at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital an hour later.

X-rays showed that she had compression fractures in seven vertebrae and a fracture in her hip bone.

Miss Christy told The New Paper yesterday: "Sports has been such a defining part of my life that I felt like if I couldn't play sports, I would not be myself. I was just starting to do well in triathlon competitions when the accident happened."

For the bubbly, sporty girl, it was tough being confined in bed for two weeks, and then being mostly wheelchair-bound for the next three months.

She also had to wear neck and torso braces for three to four months.

"One of the lows I clearly recall was when I first tried to sit up and transfer myself to a wheelchair. I couldn't do it. My blood pressure dropped and I felt light-headed," she said.

Her studies were also affected, as she had to miss classes from October to December that year.

In May 2015, she transferred to Ngee Ann Polytechnic to do a course in environmental and water technology.

PHYSIOTHERAPY

Miss Christy refused to let the accident get her down. If anything, it only spurred her on.

She started physiotherapy five weeks after the accident, with three one-hour sessions every week.

"It was really challenging, and I was demoralised when I could not do some of the exercises," she said.

Apart from physiotherapy, she would look at other ways to regain her fitness.

She watched triathlon races on YouTube and read biographies on triathletes to motivate herself.

On some weekends, her parents would drive her to watch her triathlon teammates train.

Ms Christy said: "I focused on the things I could do instead of dwelling on my injuries and the past. I kept reminding myself of the goals I had set out to achieve."

As wobbly as her walking was, she stopped using her wheelchair a week after she returned to the Singapore Sports School in January, three months after the accident.

In April 2015, Miss Christy had recovered enough to take the plunge by taking part in her first competition since the accident - the Tri-Factor Swim Women's Open 1.5km. She was second.

"I was very excited to get back to competing and I really love the high energy and atmosphere at competitions," she said.

She went on to win 10 more medals in various competitions between June 2015 and April this year.

Among them, she won the Singapore International Triathlon Junior Women's Sprint and the Singapore Duathlon National Championships Junior Women's Sprint.

Her determination and achievements did not go unnoticed. Dr Guo Huiling, deputy course chair for environmental and water technology, nominated Miss Christy for Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Student Excellence Awards. 

She will receive the Outstanding Sports Award in a ceremony today.

Dr Guo told TNP: "The tenacity and positivity Christy has shown since her accident is remarkable. She has never let the challenges she has faced impede her success, both academically and in sports.

"Christy is truly outstanding and proves to be deserving of this award. We're so proud her."

The Indonesia-born Miss Christy, who moved here as a child and is now a Singapore citizen, still goes for physiotherapy once every two weeks to work on strengthening her muscle joints.

Apart from sports, she enjoys reading biographies and photography books, and is keen on dabbling in photojournalism one day.

She aims to become an environmental engineer because "the earth is not doing so great, and I think it's up to us to change that".

"A lot of humanitarian issues stem from global warming and environmental degradation, and I'd like to be able to make a positive difference," she said.


This article was first published on July 29, 2016.
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