Anchaya silences doubters with seven golds

Thailand's Anchaya Ketkeaw swimming the backstroke leg of the 200m individual medley SM9 (SM5-SM9) event on Dec 8, 2015.
Thailand's Anchaya Ketkeaw swimming the backstroke leg of the 200m individual medley SM9 (SM5-SM9) event on Dec 8, 2015. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Thai swimmer Anchaya Ketkeaw, who was born with a deformed right hand, remembers being teased when she was growing up in the southern city of Songkhla.

The 17-year-old remembers some school-mates telling her: "Whatever you do is useless."

Yesterday, the teenager delivered the perfect riposte to her critics when she won the women's 200m individual medley SM9 (SM5-SM9) at the Asean Para Games. It was her seventh gold in as many events, making her the most successful athlete of the Games.

She said: "I'm a sensitive person and I remember what people have said to me. But it motivates me to prove them wrong. This achievement shows I can do something."

Anchaya dedicated her success to her late parents. Her father died when she was one and her mother followed 10 years later.

She said: "In school, I always felt a bit left out. People looked at me in disgust. In Thailand, people tend to look down on the disabled.

"But my mother always told me not to be ashamed of my disability."

Anchaya, who recently moved to a sports school in Suphanburi province, now has her sights set on qualifying for the Paralympics - either the Rio Games next year or the Tokyo edition in 2020.

She said: "There's still some time to qualify for Rio. I have some hope.

"But I will definitely try to qualify for Tokyo. My biggest dream is to win a Paralympic medal."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Anchaya silences doubters with seven golds'. Print Edition | Subscribe