SINGAPORE - At 11 years old, Aloysius Gan was the youngest competitor by some way among 35 athletes at the Tiger Balm Singapore Boccia Open.
But he more than held his own against his older counterparts hailing from Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand.
Aloysius, who has cerebral palsy, won the silver medal in the BC3 pairs category with partner Toh Sze Ning, winning two out of three matches.
The pair lost 3-4 to Korean world No. 2 pair Woo Jeongmin and Deubora Kim on Saturday (June 2) at the Heartbeat@Bedok sports hall in a match that was decided by the last end.
He also finished fourth in the BC3 individual category.
"He has got a lot to learn because it's his first time competing in tournament at this level, so we didn't expect anything. Every game was nervous for us but he is very happy with how he performed," said Aloysius' father and ramp assistant Kagan Gan, as his son nodded in agreement.
Aloysius cannot speak clearly owing to his condition, but is able to communicate through gestures and sounds.
Boccia is a sport similar to lawn bowls and petanque.
Depending on their level of physical mobility, players either throw or propel leather balls with the aid of a ramp.
The goal is to get the balls - which are red or blue - as close as possible to the white ball.
Each athlete or team is given six balls per round, also known as ends.
There are four ends in individual and pairs matches, and six in team matches.
Said team captain Toh: "It was a very close match today. But (even though we lost) I'm very happy that we played well because we have only been training together for a few months. We work very well together."
The 24-year-old represented Singapore at the 2016 Paralympics and is also a Sports Excellence Scholarship recipient.
Thailand dominated the four-day competition, winning the gold and silver medals in all three individual categories.
The Singapore Boccia Open is the country's first international boccia tournament in a decade, its return boosted by a $70,000 donation from Tiger Balm.