Asean Para Games: Neo takes home bronze and siblings' invention

QaneMate is an early Christmas gift from Ian Hao (left) and Ing Le for Neo (centre), who uses a forearm crutch, and it came adorned with an SG50 logo, stickers of Santa Clauses and Christmas trees.
QaneMate is an early Christmas gift from Ian Hao (left) and Ing Le for Neo (centre), who uses a forearm crutch, and it came adorned with an SG50 logo, stickers of Santa Clauses and Christmas trees.ST PHOTO: MATTHEW MOHAN

She may have won her first Asean Para Games medal but being on the podium was only Alvina Neo's second-best moment yesterday.

Instead, the Singapore shooter derived greater joy from her first meeting with Seng Ian Hao, 11, and his nine-year-old sister Ing Le.

The siblings, along with their mother Dr Loh Yin Sze, were at Safra Yishun to support their favourite para-athlete and present her with QaneMate, an invention that allows users to secure and keep their walking aids upright.

The pocket-sized creation consists of a non-slip clothes peg attached to an elastic rubber cord and adjustable fastener.

The shooter, who finished third in the P2 10m air pistol women's SH1 competition, is the first para-athlete the children have presented the invention to.

Inspired by Neo's story in The Straits Times on Nov 27, the duo decided to make one for her.

Ian Hao, a Primary 5 pupil at Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), said: "I feel that our journey for (making) QaneMate was something like Alvina's journey as a sportsperson.

"We had to try and try again and each time we solved a problem, a new one came up."

Their current design is the duo's 12th prototype after two years of work. QaneMate won first prize at the 26th Young Inventors' Showcase of Houston, Texas (Fourth Graders category) last year.

It also earned a commendation award at the Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors' Award the same year.

Neo, a student at SIM University (UniSIM), said: "They did a demonstration for me, it's pretty helpful. They have shown that it doesn't take a lot to help somebody else."

Neo's present to them?

A brave comeback to claim the bronze after a poor start, when she shot rounds of 6.9 and 6.1.

The shooter eventually found her groove and finished with a 154.5 total, behind Thailand's Somporn Muangsiri (189.1) and Maneerat Nonsang (179.4).

Ing Le said: " She didn't give up no matter what and I found that very inspirational."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'Neo takes home bronze and siblings' invention'. Print Edition | Subscribe