Melvyn Yeo waves to supporters in the crowd [Photo by Sport Singapore / Action Images via Reuters]
There has been no shortage of medal glory for Team Singapore at this 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG) but the spirit of competition is not just about podium positions but also shows the desire of individuals to constantly strive for their best.
Team Singapore powerlifter, Melvyn Yeo, does not have a medal to show from his performance on Sunday, his debut appearance in an APG, but he certainly pushed himself to his limits.
Yeo set a new personal best with a lift of 112 kg in the under-65 kg category at the Marina Bay Sands on Sunday, so close to a bronze medal but certainly an achievement he will recall for many years.
The lifter narrowly missed out on third place after Jasni Vision of Malaysia made a fine lift in his third attempt after two failed lifts.
Taking part in his first ASEAN Para Games ever, Yeo made a shaky start when his first lift was declared a “no lift”.
Yeo attributed his failed first attempt to the nervous jitters of competing in front of a large home crowd.
“The first one was a little bit more nervous. Never really had so many people and they are cheering after you,” said the 31-year-old who has Cerebral Palsy.
“I think it was not just for me, but everyone else kind of felt nervous. There were quite a lot of no lifts on the first.”
“Compared to when I lifted overseas in Kazakhstan when there was nobody there, it was a little more nerve-wracking at the start.”
Melvyn Yeo in action [Photo by Sport Singapore / Action Images via Reuters]
Yeo, however, made good of his second lift and went on to break his personal best record by 7 kg in his third lift.
“After the second lift, I got it and the third lift was more of just like repeating the motion I have been doing all this time during training,” said Yeo.
Before he had discovered the joys of weightlifting, Yeo was struggling to find a purposeful meaning in life for the longest time.
“It took me quite a while to realise what my passions were. For me, I like to play games so I wanted to be a professional gamer to escape the real world,” he said.
“After finishing army, I went to the gym and from the gym I had personal training for about one and half years. And that led me to fall in love with weight training.”
Yeo has come a long way despite having only trained in powerlifting for a brief 10 months. Within that short period, he has dramatically improved his personal best from about 80 kg to the 112 kg today.
But the personal fitness trainer is not going to spend any time celebrating the achievement. Instead, he is already setting his sights on the next competition.
“It still goes on because we are still preparing for the next competition. I think next year we are going overseas again,” he said.
“And we are preparing for 2020. That’s where my five year plan will take me - the 2020 Paralympics in Japan.”
In the same under-65 category, Vietnam’s Nguyen Thanh Xuan also broke the previous Games record set by runner-up Chumchai Phongsakon of Thailand in 2014.
He made a lift of 171 kg in his third attempt surpassing Chumchai’s 170 kg record set in Naypyidaw.