Asean Para Games 2017

Asean Para Games: Winner is a study in balance

Toh Wei Soong on his way to winning the 100m freestyle S7 at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday. Despite reclassification, his desire is as strong.
Toh Wei Soong on his way to winning the 100m freestyle S7 at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday. Despite reclassification, his desire is as strong.PHOTO: DYAN TJHIA/SPORT SINGAPORE

Wei Soong, who is taking the IB soon, breaks mark and earns S'pore's 1st gold

Toh Wei Soong has had to nearly halve his training schedule for much of this year because of the upcoming International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations.

But the swimmer still splashed his way to gold in the Asean Para Games (APG) yesterday - Singapore's first title in Kuala Lumpur.

Better yet, he clocked 1min 7.53sec in the men's 100m freestyle S7 to smash the previous Games record of 1:14.55 set by Somyot Sittichai of Thailand in 2008.

The 19-year-old from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) said: "My focus has been to put in good effort on a day-to-day basis. It's my belief that with persistent effort, rewards will reap themselves.

"This is an inescapable dilemma for many athletes and we must face the struggle with the same perseverance and confidence that we carry along with us in every race."

Wei Soong, who has even brought his study materials with him so he can do some revision, insists that he is pleased with the balance.

He said: "My preparation for the Games was a balance between the two (training and studying) and I am satisfied."

Diagnosed with transverse myelitis when he was two, he is no stranger to success at the APG, having won the 50m and 100m free and 100m back S8 in 2015.

The condition is an inflammation of the spinal cord, which restricts the use of his legs.

Swimming in the S7 category this year, he said: "I was reclassified this year in Sheffield and I respect the professional assessment of the International Paralympic Committee classifiers. Regardless of the class I am in, the rigour of my training is the same and my desire to swim the fastest I can remains unaffected.

"Coming into the Games, my target was simply to do my best and follow the strategies set by my coaches and I am quite happy with my results so far."

Singapore won three other swimming medals yesterday. The Republic's most bemedalled APG athlete, Theresa Goh, claimed a silver in the 100m S6 free, Benson Tan a bronze in the men's 200m S14 free, and Danielle Moi a silver in the women's 100m S14 free.

Danielle, 17, had also won two gold medals at the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles in the 100m butterfly and freestyle. She turns 18 later this month.

The Metta School student, who is at her second APG, said: "It's a different feeling, I'm racing with those from Asean countries but it doesn't mean it's easier.

"The races are just as competitive as international ones and this silver is my first medal at the Games.

"It was my personal best and and I'm going to work with coach (Cao Moxia) to improve for the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Winner is a study in balance'. Print Edition | Subscribe