Lucas Ng spent two days at the SEA Games short track speed skating event with his right hand taped up, but it was only after the competition ended yesterday that the extent of his injury was revealed.
After he won his second of two silver medals at the Empire City Mall ice rink yesterday, Singapore Ice Skating Association (Sisa) president Sonja Chong said the 28-year-old had suffered a serious injury that required surgery and 10 stitches about 1 ½ weeks ago.
According to Chong, while training in South Korea where Ng is based, a skater in front of him fell and in the process, accidentally slashed Ng's right hand, severing a tendon.
After surgery on Aug 20, nine days before the Games competition, Ng was cleared to compete.
Said Chong: "This time round was a bit of a struggle for him in the sense that he had this injury to think about as well, so the preparation was a little disrupted.
"We're actually very proud of what he's managed to do given that he's been skating with his hands all taped up, but Lucas did very well."
Ng won silver in the men's 1,000m race and men's 3,000m relay (together with Miki Chong, Chua Qi En and Lim Chia Yeh).
In the 1,000m, he was second in 1min 55.185sec, a fraction behind Thailand's Triphop Thongngam (1:55.127). Malaysia's Hazim Shahrum was third (1:57.870).
Despite admitting he was disappointed at falling short of gold, Ng insisted his injury did not impede his confidence.
"I tried not to let it stop me from skating more or train as hard but ultimately, maybe my body was reacting on its own," he said.
"Mentally, I just took it as I'm not injured and raced as per normal.
"The injury helped me to better focus on what I need to improve on, and also helped me be more focused during racing... maybe I just need more training (to get gold)."
The day before, Ng - who was South-east Asia's top finisher at the Asian Winter Games in February - did not qualify for the 500m final he had been tipped to win after receiving a penalty for crossing the finish line incorrectly in the heats.
Compatriot Cheyenne Goh also bagged a silver in the women's 1,000m, and later teamed up with Danielle Han, Suvian Chua and Deanna See to finish second in the women's 3,000m relay.
Singapore's speed skaters wrapped up their Games outing with four silvers and one bronze.
Sisa president Chong hopes the inclusion of winter sports (ice skating and ice hockey) at the biennial Games for the first time will boost its profile in the region.
"I think all the federations (international and Asian) will sit down after this and look to build on the momentum of the Games so that the sport will just grow," she added.