When Jason Chee overcame all odds to win the men's table tennis T2 singles gold at September's Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, it also marked the end of a journey for his coach Chia Chong Boon.
The 66-year-old veteran, who had also coached the men's national team previously, decided to retire on a high as Chee's victory inspired the nation.
Chia, who is also the former sports editor of Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao, is one of 105 coaches recognised at the inaugural Coaches Appreciation Night yesterday for their role in Team Singapore's good showing at this year's SEA Games and Asean Para Games (APG), both held in Kuala Lumpur.
CoachSG is the academy of coaching and leadership launched this year by national sports agency Sport Singapore.
In total, 105 coaches were lauded by CoachSG, for mentoring national athletes who brought home a SEA Games haul of 188 medals (57 golds, 58 silvers and 73 bronzes) and 50 APG medals (nine golds, 17 silvers and 24 bronzes).
They received specially crafted medallions from SportSG CEO Lim Teck Yin at Zouk yesterday.
Chia, who had coached navy serviceman Chee for four years, told The Straits Times: "I had completed my mission after Jason won the gold medal. I wanted to step down last year but Jason wanted to win the singles gold (Chee won a silver in the 2015 edition).
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
He is a coach who takes so much patience and effort to train me, from helping me pick up the sport with my weaker right hand to constantly giving me positive pointers to improve my game.
JASON CHEE, 2017 APG table tennis singles champion, on his mentor's guidance.
MY JOB IS DONE
I had completed my mission after Jason won the gold medal... Unfortunately, he lost one eye to cancer but he never gave up. His gold medal is a nice farewell gift to me.
CHIA CHONG BOON, long-time table tennis coach, on his time at the helm.
"Unfortunately, he lost one eye to cancer but he never gave up. His gold medal is a nice farewell gift to me. I coached the men's team for eight years from 1981-1989 and I coached the Para Games team for eight years too.
"It's a nice number and I'm glad to go out on a happy note."
Chee paid tribute to his mentor, saying: "He is a coach who takes so much patience and effort to train me, from helping me pick up the sport with my weaker right hand to constantly giving me positive pointers to improve my game."
In an interesting trivia, Chia partnered Tan Kai Kok, another former coach of Chee, to win the men's doubles silver at the 1975 South-east Asia Peninsular Games and a bronze at the 1977 SEA Games.
In his speech to the coaches, Singapore Sports Institute chief Toh Boon Yi said: "No athlete could have flown the Singapore flag high without a coach. You inspire our athletes in their pursuit of excellence. You stand by them in moments of despair, you spur them on towards breakthroughs. You are vital in our athletes' journey towards achieving personal, national, regional and global successes."
Another coach honoured was archery's Rachel Sng. The 52-year-old has the distinction of guiding athletes to podium finishes at both the SEA Games and APG this year.
"This (event) is a nice form of recognition for all the coaches. I feel happy to receive the medallion but it is the athletes who deserve the credit as they are the ones who put in the hard work."