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AYPG just a start for debutants Colin Soon and Jamien Wong

06 December 2017
By Wong Jeng Teng

The 2017 Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG) will see Singapore being represented by a contingent of 28 athletes this month. The young and talented group of individuals includes several debutants, such as swimmer Colin Soon and paddler Jamien Wong, who are looking forward to this first-time experience.

While the AYPG will be their highest level of competition, Colin and Jamien remain unfazed. As we find out from the duo, this is simply the beginning of promising sporting careers ahead of them.

“I think being selected for the AYPG is the biggest highlight [of my swimming journey so far]. I’m very honoured to be given this opportunity, and I’m extremely excited for the Games,” said Colin, who has been taking part in swimming competitions since he was six years old.

AYPG
Photo Credit: Singapore Disability Sports Council

The youth, now aged 12, might be the youngest athlete in the contingent, but he has already accumulated seven years of experience in the pool. The AYPG will be his first overseas competition.

Similarly, the AYPG will also be a career milestone for Jamien, as he had just received his official disability sport classification last July. This will be his first major meet.

“When I was younger, I played table tennis [with my family] as a leisure sport. Now, I’m taking up this challenge for myself. I’ve just gotten my classification, so I want to achieve more,” said the 20-year-old, who will compete in the Class 9 events.

Given their lack of experience on the international stage, both athletes acknowledged that they still had plenty of room for improvement, agreeing that getting better was all that mattered.

“I’ll take it one game at a time, and [hopefully] achieve results that I have never achieved before. I’ll tell myself that if I have a bad game, the next game should be better,” Jamien shared.

Colin concurred: “[I’m looking forward to] experiencing an international competition and learning how to improve myself. I hope to get new personal best timings too!”

Indeed, projecting such positivity seems almost effortless to the duo, but we discovered that their journeys have definitely not been easy, especially when it came to overcoming their physical conditions for their respective sports.

“I was born with Adams-Oliver Syndrome; without skin on my hands, feet, and my back. The skin only grew after I was born. Due to that, my fingers and feet were deformed afterwards,” explained Jamien, who plays with his right hand.

AYPG
Photo Credit: Singapore Disability Sports Council 

“Sometimes, my feet will have blisters or dry skin forming, leading to problems with walking or running. At training, I have to adapt by ensuring that my movements do not cause [too much] friction on my soles,” he continued.

Colin, on the other hand, has cone-rod dystrophy, which affects his vision, making it a challenge to read fine print and see things from afar. He elaborated: “I can’t see what the coach is doing if he demonstrates from the pool deck. So he’ll normally ask me to get out of the water and use my arms and body to show me what to do.”

Difficult? Certainly. But the desire to improve and to achieve fuels these young upstarts to champion towards bigger goals, with the ASEAN Para Games – and, perhaps, the Paralympics – as their next targets.

Beyond that, they also hope that their sporting journeys and successes will inspire other Singaporeans to be brave in achieving their dreams. As Jamien expressed: “We should not let our limitations in life restrict ourselves from doing what we love.”

“We always think that these limitations are hindering us from doing even better but actually, we should be taking them as a way of challenging ourselves to step out of our boundaries!”

 

The TeamSG contingent will compete at the 3rd Asian Youth Para Games from 10 to 14 December this year. Be sure to follow our Facebook pagefor the latest updates and join us in supporting our athletes as #OneTeamSG!

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