'We all need to have drive in life'

Lieu Teck Hua had his right leg amputated after a motorcycle accident 11 years ago. He currently drives a modified car with his left leg.
Lieu Teck Hua had his right leg amputated after a motorcycle accident 11 years ago. He currently drives a modified car with his left leg.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Lieu Teck Hua, 35, athletics

Right-leg amputee

Before I got my car in 2004, I relied mainly on taxis as it was more convenient. I didn't feel comfortable taking public transport and tried to avoid people who stared at me. It's a 40-minute drive from my flat in Punggol to town, where I work. It cost about $650 to modify my car and shift the accelerator to the left so that I can control it with my non-amputated leg. I converted my driving licence from manual to auto.

My journey...

I was in denial after my motorcycle accident in June 2004. I didn't want to sign the letter of consent to amputate and it took me three days before I was ready.

There was no YouTube back then and so it was hard to understand what life as an amputee was like, or see the things that you could do with a prosthetic leg.

In the beginning, it was hard to get used to it and, even with crutches, I kept falling.

I needed to take out my prosthesis every hour or so to wipe the sweat accumulated at my stump.

I was very affected by people as they tended to stare when I went to the mall or the bus stop. Some even nudged their friends to stare at me. I felt very ostracised, almost as if I looked like an alien.

I tried to put on a strong front for my parents because the pain they were feeling was no less than mine.

But when my friends came to visit, that was when I would let loose and cry.

After meeting other disabled athletes, some of them with more severe disabilities than me, I've learnt to be more positive, to complain less and appreciate life more.

I know that I'm not alone and that there are many people like me, who are not normal, but trying to live a normal life and that was very helpful and inspirational.

Taking part in sport also helped change my mindset because, being a sportsman, we want to excel in what we do and that is a very important thing in life.

Everyone needs to have that drive in them, whether they do sport or not.

This Para Games in Singapore is not just a good opportunity to showcase to the public our ability to compete as athletes but I also hope it can send a message to the disabled community that we can still achieve greatness as long as we are willing to work at it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline ''We all need to have drive in life''. Print Edition | Subscribe