Asean Para Games: Toh Wei Soong rebounds for 2nd gold

Toh Wei Soong, with two golds and a silver in KL, is pleased that his hard work practising starts and turns hundreds of times has paid off.
Toh Wei Soong, with two golds and a silver in KL, is pleased that his hard work practising starts and turns hundreds of times has paid off.

Coming in second in his first final of the day was enough to put doubts in para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong for his second race.

Yet, in pushing that hesitation aside, the 19-year-old Singaporean reached new heights in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, winning the 50m freestyle S7 gold in 29.79 seconds - an Asean Para Games (APG) record and a personal best.

Vietnamese Le Tien Dat, the previous Games record holder, was second in 33.10sec while Thailand's S. Kaweewat was third (33.93sec).

Two hours before his golden performance, however, Toh was battling with apprehension despite earning a silver in the 100m backstroke S7 at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil.

He recalled: "I'll be honest, (the backstroke result) gave me a bit of anxiety because there's this doubt about whether you're going to do badly for the next race.

"But I just gave it all I had and put that anxiety aside... The best way to get rid of anxiety is not to think about it - don't think about what makes you afraid, just focus on your race, your technique and what you're going to do."

By dealing successfully with his nerves, he was able to finish his APG outing on a high, winning two golds and a silver after triumphing in Monday's 100m free S7.

"The hundreds of times I practised my starts and turns... it all came together for these Games and my success is because of the accumulation of all the hard work," the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) student said.

"(My training) was a little irregular because I had exams, but my school was generous enough to give me some allowance to train and I'm very thankful for that."

After the Games, Toh will turn his attention back to studies - on the International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations, which start in early November.

And he knows exactly how to combat exam anxiety - by focusing on what he needs to do.

"When you're stressed about a big exam, the best thing to do is just study. Being stressed about studying doesn't help, but studying does," he said.

In the women's 50m free S5 final, which also took place yesterday, Theresa Goh won silver for her 33rd APG medal, while team-mate Yip Pin Xiu, competing in her lone event at these Games, was fourth.

Singapore bagged another silver through Danielle Moi in the women's 50m free S14, while Wong Zhi Wei was third in the men's 50m free S13.

The APG swimming competition ends today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Toh rebounds for 2nd gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe