A look back at the 8th ASEAN Para Games
10 December, 2015
Coinciding with this year’s jubilee celebrations, the ASEAN Para Games over was fitting conclusion to an extraordinary year as the country celebrated victories big and small, inside and outside sport.
After an emotional week of Games, we look at some of the athletes who have defied age, biology and common sense to achieve the impossible over the last week.
Answering insults with golds
17-year-old Anchaya Ketkeaw has been told she would never amount to anything her entire life because of her disability.
But at this ASEAN Para Games, she proved her doubters dead wrong with seven gold medals in the SM9 classification.
Thailand’s Anchaya Ketkeaw racing ahead to win the Gold with a Games record time of 1:35.42 at the Asean Para Games 2015 Women's 100M Breaststroke – SB9 - Timed Final 2 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre on 4 December 2015. Photo: Calvin Teoh / SAPGOC
“Yes, I think I proved myself here,” she said with a smile.
Ketkeaw, who trains four hours a day for six days each week, said she turned the hateful words into motivation.
“They told me ‘you will never ever do it”, ‘whatever you try to do it is useless,” she said. “I am a very sensitive person. What people said to me, I kept it and was thinking about it. I just wanted to prove those people that they are wrong, that I can do it.
“The insults and the looking down on me, hurt me, but I wanted to show I am not like they said,” she added.
Her story, she believes contains a lesson for other disabled youngsters facing discriminatory behaviour.
“You don’t do anything other than just try hard, try harder and prove that you can do it and you will see the result,” she said.
Breaking a world record
Team Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu not only added to the Republic’s gold medal haul in the pool but she incredibly set a new World Record of 1:01.61 for the S2 category in the Women's 50m Backstroke S5 Finals.
Singapore's Yip Pin Xu is congratulated by Singapore's CDM Raja Singh after winning silver in Swimming women's 50m Freestyle - S5. Photo: Seow Gim Hong / SAPGOC
Because of a lack of competitors in the S2 category, Yip swam three classifications above her official status in the S5 and provided a world record time.
The previous record was 1:03.00 set by Feng Yazhu of China during the 2012 London Paralympics.
"I'm so happy that it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm very touched and glad that I'm able to do this on home ground," said Yip. “My timings proved that it wasn't a fluke."
Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Thuy is a 51-year-old athlete who has defied age to overcome younger and fitter competitors in track and field.
The Vietnamese veteran made her debut in front of the home crowds in Hanoi in 2003 and along the way she has picked up 20 medals on the track and in the long jump.
Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Thuy (340) in action at the Singapore National Stadium in the Women's 200m Final. Photo: Simon Pek / SAPGOC
That makes her among the most decorated athletes in APG history and her latest honours came on the opening day of the 2015 edition with a bronze in the Long Jump (F44) and two gold in the 100 metres and 200 metres (T43/44).
Her strength has come from a dedicated commitment to her training — she is on the track at 5am every morning, putting in her practice before she goes to work as a masseuse.
“It is a commitment and it can be hard but it is worth it,” she said.
Proving doctors wrong
Team Singapore athlete Zac Leow got into an accident two years ago and broke his spinal cord. Doctors told him he might have a small chance to walking again, but running was out of the question.
Singapore's Zac Leow in action on during the men's 400m final. Photo: SAPGOC
Zac, however, was not one to give up and give in to fate. He set out a clear and concise plan to regain control of his body, starting by trying to wiggle one finger.
Soon, Zac was able to walk even though it took him 20 minutes to plod through a mere 500 metres. And just eight months after his unfortunate accident, he successfully completed a half-marathon, defying all odds.
On Sunday evening, again personifying the slogan that impossible is nothing, Zac clinched Singapore’s first APG medal in athletics as he finished second in the men’s 1500m (T37) event with a time of 5 minutes 44 seconds.