Ms Kimberly Quek was just 1½ years old when she was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in both ears, but that did not stop her from pursuing an interest in bowling and excelling at it.
She is one of two students from the Singapore Sports School who received their International Baccalaureate (IB) results about a week ago.
Ms Quek attained a score of 40 out of 45, while her schoolmate and rhythmic gymnast Lyn Yeo, achieved a near-perfect score of 44.
Both 20-year-olds graduated from the May IB session, instead of the November sitting for most local students, because they were granted extensions due to their sports commitments.
The Singapore Sports School is currently one of 25 schools worldwide - and the only one here - allowed to offer this extended programme.
In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's May IB exams were cancelled globally and the final score was based on students' coursework. This includes projects, assignments and presentations.
Said Ms Quek: "(Bowling) has taught me perseverance and patience."
In primary school, she tried sports such as netball and swimming, but struggled because of her hearing loss. For instance, because she could not wear her hearing implant while swimming, she could not hear the referee's whistle at the starting point.
"I had to rely on watching the other swimmers or someone would push me into the water. That always resulted in my swim times being delayed," said Ms Quek, who is the oldest of three children. Her mother is a teacher and her father is in the insurance industry.
She found her niche in bowling after winning her first inter-school competition when she was in Primary 6.
She has since represented Singapore in bowling at global competitions such as the 2017 Deaflympics, where she won a bronze medal.
She also took part in the World Deaf Bowling Championships last year, where she was placed 12th and 9th for the singles and doubles events respectively.
LESSONS FROM BOWLING
Bowling is like life itself because there will always be things out of my control. What is important is to take things in my stride and keep trying until I succeed, as well as celebrate the little successes such as getting a strike.
MS KIMBERLY QUEK, on how the sport has taught her resilience, in the face of uncertainties.
SPORT AS A CAREER
I was able to apply theories I had learnt in school to the patients' recovery process, and I could empathise with them because of what I had gone through myself. Although I have stopped training, I hope to still be involved in the gymnastics community as a coach or a judge.
MS LYN YEO, on overcoming a knee injury that struck before the 2017 SEA Games and her stint shadowing a physiotherapist.
She has also joined regular bowling tournaments that are not only for deaf people.
"I am happy and thankful to have done well for IB," said Ms Quek, who plans to enrol in a science-related course at a local university and continue bowling.
As she is 95 per cent deaf, she has to put in more effort in her studies and during training. "In class, I have to take notes and lip-read and listen, as well as process the information at the same time. So it can be quite tiring for me over the course of a regular school day."
Group discussions were also a struggle because it was difficult to keep track of who was speaking, she said, so she would ask for a summary of discussions from a groupmate.
Ms Quek has also adapted to similar challenges in her sport, such as listening to coaches' instructions in noisy bowling centres.
"I overcome this by getting them to write in my notebook, and thus minimise any misunderstandings.
"Physiologically, my hearing loss affects my sense of balance, which is important in making accurate shots in bowling. I adapt to this problem by strengthening my core to help me balance better."
The sport has taught her resilience, in the face of uncertainties.
"Bowling can be unpredictable because there are many factors in play, such as the lane conditions, the choice of ball, and even the emotional state of the bowler," she said.
"Bowling is like life itself because there will always be things out of my control. What is important is to take things in my stride and keep trying until I succeed, as well as celebrate the little successes such as getting a strike."
For Ms Yeo, one of her toughest experiences was having to sit out the 2017 SEA Games because she injured her knee a month before.
"While training, my knee gave way. It was disappointing to have to pull out of the SEA Games," said the youngest of three children, who had to undergo a meniscus reconstruction procedure.
Last year, she was given another chance to take part in the SEA Games. "I had to extend my studies again, but I wanted to take part in a major event, something that I couldn't do previously," she said.
While she did not win a medal, she is glad she had the chance to compete, even though she still felt pain from her previous injury during training.
"I didn't perform as well as I had hoped but looking back, no matter what the results were, I learnt from the process of training, through the setbacks like the injury."
Her recovery process piqued her interest in physiotherapy, and she hopes to pursue a related course at the Singapore Institute of Technology. In February, she did a three-week stint shadowing a physiotherapist at the National Youth Sports Institute.
"I was able to apply theories I had learnt in school to the patients' recovery process, and I could empathise with them because of what I had gone through myself," said Ms Yeo, whose father is a businessman and mother is a housewife.
"Although I have stopped training, I hope to still be involved in the gymnastics community as a coach or a judge."