Hard work pays off for Para Games athlete

For Greendale Secondary School student Lionel Toh, 16, 2015 was a year that was memorable and, at times, difficult.

The Normal (Academic) student was born with cerebral palsy, which affected movements on the left side of his body.

He had to juggle his N-level exams with training for the ASEAN Para Games held here earlier this month.

He represented Singapore in the 100m and 200m sprints.

"The training period from August to December was tough. The athletes trained four times a week, but I trained only twice as I had to study," he said.

But his efforts have paid off.

Lionel obtained a score of 17 points yesterday, including grade 4 for both English and Mathematics.

He qualified for the Direct Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme, where students take a two-year Higher Nitec course at the Institute of Technical Education.

The programme guarantees them a place in a matching polytechnic diploma course if they meet the qualifying grade point average.

Over 60 per cent of this year's N(A) cohort in Greendale Secondary, in Punggol, made the cut for the scheme.

Lionel is considering his options, but hopes to take a business or sports-related course in a polytechnic.

The only child of an accountant and a salesman, he said it took a lot of effort to convince his mother to let him compete at the Games.

"She was very worried that I wouldn't be able to handle my exams. But I kept telling her that it's my dream to represent Singapore."

At his physiotherapist's suggestion, Lionel started playing football with others with cerebral palsy and later began running competitively.

He said: "Sports is a big thing in my life... It made me brave. It made me forget about my disability."

This article was first published on December 18, 2015.
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