2015 Asean Para Games: Day 7

Asean Para Games: Blood is thicker than water

Some were born not fully whole. Others have had life unfairly take a part of their bodies away from them. Still others have had to deal with misfortune hitting close to home more than once. But as some athletes at the Asean Para Games have shown, not only are familial bonds stronger than trauma, they also help you weather the storm - hand in hand. The Straits Times profiles athletes who also have a family member competing at the Games.

Husband and wife from Myanmar

Married for 1 1/2 years

PHYO KO KO, 24

Disability: Right-leg amputee after car accident at age 5

Sport: Swimming

ZIN MAR HTUN, 25

Disability: Born with underdeveloped right leg

Sport: Swimming

Mar Htun: "We met at a training camp before last year's Asean Para Games in Naypyitaw, and got married four months after the Games. Ko Ko is crazy about the games on his phone and I don't really like that."

Ko Ko: "She's very good at making clothes. I love the shirts she makes for me."


Brothers from Laos

Their older brother and older sister do not have

visual impairments.

BOUALOY THONGKHAM, 20

Disability: Partially sighted

Sport: Goalball

TONG THONGKHAM, 18

Disability: Partially sighted

Sport: Goalball

Boualoy ( left): "It's really fun to be able to play with family. Tong can play very fast and does a good job.

"Our father was a rice farmer and passed away 10 years ago. I want to help my mother, but it's hard because I cannot see. We live far away from her so I go back to visit her once a year during the Lao New Year in April. She's very happy for us that we're able to come to Singapore. She wanted to come but we don't have money."


Father and son from Malaysia

MOHAMED SHAHRUL RAFIQ MAULA MUSTAFA, 25

Disability: Cerebral palsy

Sport: Boccia

MUSTAFA ARIFIN, 63

Sport: Boccia (assistant)

Shahrul: Because of his condition, Shahrul uses sign language to communicate and can say only two words: Papa and Mama.

Mustafa: "My wife passed away 4 1/2 years ago so I have to take Shahrul with me wherever I go and take care of him full-time. We're very close. It makes me happy to spend time with Shahrul. Whatever he needs, I'll support him. He's a good boy and doesn't give problems. We go to watch wayang kulit (shadow puppetry) twice a month together."


Husband and wife from the Philippines

Married for 19 years with a daughter

NOEL ESPANOL, 48

Disability: Optic atrophy

Sport: Bowling

GINA ESPANOL, 43

Disability: Choroidal coloboma

Sport: Bowling

Gina: "We met at a massage training centre and own a massage parlour in Manila where we live now. It's a challenge when we're travelling because we can't see, so we have to rely on each other and asking other people for help."

Noel: "I can't see, but people have told me that Gina is very beautiful."


Husband and wife from Vietnam

Married since 2009 with a three-year-old daughter

NGUYEN QUANG VUONG, 32

Disability: Right-arm amputee

Sport: Swimming

NGUYEN THI THUY, 26

Disability: Born with deformed left hand

Sport: Swimming

Thuy: "We had a lot of difficulty with parenthood initially, with things like changing the baby's diapers and feeding her. So we got help from our parents, but now that she's older, it's much easier."

Vuong: "We didn't get along at first when we met in the national team. We hardly talked. We ran into each other again five years later at the sports club that I work at and got to know each other. I realised that she works really hard in training. She's also cute and is a great cook."


Husband and wife from Singapore

Married for 26 years, with two daughters and a son

BAHKIA HASHIM, 62

Disability: Polio

Sport: Bowling

FARIDAH SALLEH, 58

Disability: Polio

Sport: Shooting

Faridah: "It was a challenge for us raising three children, especially when they were still babies. But we had a lot of help and support from our extended family."

Bahkia: "At times, when we sent our children to school, we would worry about what our children's friends would think. We had no confidence and worried that they would be ashamed of us. But our children have always said they're proud of us."


Husband and wife from Singapore

Married for 21 years

LING TECK MONG, 53

Disability: Paralysed from chest down since age 19 after an accident during national service

Sport: Shooting

ANGIE LIM, 48

Disability: Hampered on right side of body after car accident at 13

Sport: Shooting

Lim: "We met at an organisation for the handicapped in 1990 and got married in 1994. I was very intrigued by him because he seemed like a very mysterious guy who kept to himself."

Ling: "We tried shooting for fun at HomeTeamNS about three years ago, which led to competing. Angie is a very simple person and easy to get along with."


Father and son from Brunei

ROSLI HAJI HASTAN, 45

Disability: Right-leg amputee after falling from a building while working at a construction site at age of 15

Sport: Athletics

MOHAMMAD KHAIRIN AZHAR ROSLI, 17

Disability: Intellectual impairment

Sport: Athletics

Rosli: "I've been competing since 1989. My son is a very positive person and for him to work hard to represent Brunei together with me is something our family is very proud of."

Khairin: "My dad was the one who influenced me to get involved in athletics. He's an eight-time APG gold medallist and that's something I'm really proud of."


Siblings from Brunei

AWANG RADUAN AWANG HAJI MATAHA, 40

Disability: Visual impairment

Sport: Athletics

DYG NOR HENSAN AWANG HAJI MATAHA, 31

Disability: Visual impairment

Sport: Athletics

Hensan: "There are 11 of us in the family, not including our parents, and we're very close. My brother understands how I feel and knows exactly what I go through."

Awang: "Hensan is a very positive person and a great influence. She was the one who got me into sports."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Blood is thicker than water'. Print Edition | Subscribe