Team Singapore Para-Shuttler Tay Wei Ming who is currently ranked world number four (Photo by Sport Singapore)
Ask Tay Wei Ming what motivates him and the 26-year-old replied without hesitation: “Passion.”
After all, being passionate about badminton was how the ASEAN Para Games two times Gold medallist started his sporting career. Tay credited his father for showing him the ropes and encouraging him to pursue his dreams.
“My dad had cultivated me to take up sports at a young age. Out of all the sports that he taught me, I felt that badminton was a sport that I could master to the highest level despite my disability,” Tay explained
“I wanted to achieve something out of it. My passion for badminton grew ever since then.”
Tay suffers from Erb’s Palsy, a condition that affects the nerves in his right arm. That means he only has control over his right thumb and index finger. However, his disability does not faze him, but instead, spurs him to fight harder during competitions.
“I want to be recognised. I want people to know that there is a Singaporean here fighting for his nation,” he said.
Tay was also determined to prove that being disabled does not mean that he was less competent.
“I want people to know that even a disabled person could play better than an able-bodied person and there should not be discrimination against disabled people,” he insisted.
Aside from competing in the BMSTU-5 Men's Open singles at the Asian Para Games 2014, Tay will also be aiming to claim a medal in the doubles category with his partner, Kelvin Pung.
Tay and Pung are no strangers to each other, having won the Bronze medal in the 2013 Para-Badminton World Championships men’s doubles.
Pung, whose medals all come from doubles competition, shares Tay’s desire to bring glory to the Republic.
“Support from Singaporeans is important to me because I am a Singaporean as well. I am proud to wear the flag on my chest,” Pung said.
“Hearing cheers from Singaporeans during a competition gives you instant energy boost!”
The two of them could not be more different in terms of personalities, with Tay preferring to listen to motivational speeches in his handphone for his pre-game ritual, while Pung always checked through his equipment and made sure he was ready for the game.
But opposite personalities attract and both of them will be hoping that their successful partnership will bring in the medals for their beloved Singapore.