Inspiration

Asean Para Games 2015: Support from family spurs para-archer to nail the target

Robert Fuchs, 40, at a training session at Queenstown Stadium. He lost his left leg last year when his motorcycle hit a car. He will be competing in the individual and mixed team compound bow events at the APG.
Robert Fuchs, 40, at a training session at Queenstown Stadium. He lost his left leg last year when his motorcycle hit a car. He will be competing in the individual and mixed team compound bow events at the APG.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Motivation for an athlete takes many forms. For para-archer Robert Fuchs, the desire to succeed comes from his family.

His wife Cristina and daughter Annemarie were the bedrock that he relied on when tragedy struck in June last year.

The 40-year-old was involved in a traffic accident that wrecked his left leg, which was later amputated.

The subsequent weeks were among his darkest, said the Romanian-born Fuchs, who has lived in Singapore since 2007 and received his citizenship two months before the accident.

It took a child's perspective to lift the father's spirits.

"My daughter took one look at my stump and said, 'Hey that is not so bad, at least you can still walk and play games with me.' It's amazing how positive kids are," said Fuchs.

  • ARCHERY

  • GOLD MEDALS ON OFFER: 12


    TEAM SINGAPORE

    MEN: Robert Fuchs (captain), Kevin Wong.

    WOMEN: Syahidah Alim.


    LAST APG: Did not compete.


    ABOUT THE SPORT: This will be the fourth time it is featured at the APG


    CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM:

    ARST: Standing or with some support required, have either limb deficiency, leg-length difference or impairments that affect their arms and trunk.

    ARW1: Compete in wheelchairs, tetraplegic archers with loss of leg and trunk functions, arms show a loss of muscle strength, coordination or range of movement.

    ARW2: Compete in wheelchairs, paraplegic archers with limitations in leg and trunk functions, arms show normal functions.

Roused from his gloom, he was back on his feet within a few months. A chance meeting at Tan Tock Seng Hospital with national para-archer Desmond Tong, who works there as a prosthetist, spurred another change in Fuchs.

"I saw how active he was and when he invited me to join him at a training session, I thought why not," said Fuchs after training last week at the Queenstown Stadium.

The results were comical the first time he held a bow last November, said the operations manager at French telecom firm Alcatel-Lucent with a laugh, as he took out his phone to show a video of him misfiring and dropping the bow.

It is a far cry from his current levels. He reached the quarter-finals at last week's World Archery Asia Para Championships in Bangkok.

And he is one of only two men selected to represent Singapore at next month's Asean Para Games (APG). He will compete in the individual and mixed team compound bow events.

He said: "Excited, anxious, shocked. I'm an emotional ball about to explode."

The pride in his voice is never more apparent than when he describes his inspiration - the two women in his life.

"My wife is a very positive person. And my daughter tells her whole school about me and keeps asking for VIP seats. They've been unbelievably supportive."

Fuchs, whose sentences are peppered with Singlish phrases like "kan cheong" and "lahs", hopes to light a similar spark in the local disabled community.

He said: "I'm old for an athlete but I want to show it's never too late to try anything. Just believe in yourself and work hard."

Preparing for next week's APG was also a study in sacrifice for Fuchs as it meant time away from his family. He trained four times weekly, up to four hours each session, at various venues from Pasir Ris to Potong Pasir.

An APG medal in the compound standing event would be the high point of his fledging athletic career and Fuchs, who shares the same name with a famous Austrian composer, will be hoping to hit the right notes with his arrows.

He has nailed the bull's eye in other ways.

He said: "There are all kinds of achievements.

"A medal is just one.

"Seeing my family cheer for me and making them proud is more than enough for me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'Support from family spurs para-archer to nail the target'. Print Edition | Subscribe