Young racer Christian in the footsteps of Schooling
His parents let go-karter, 11, live his dreams by moving to Milan where he can train and compete
Christian Ho was just nine when he fractured his shoulder after his go-kart flipped across the road during a race.
But if it was anything that could faze the young Singaporean racer, it certainly wasn't a freak accident that left his mother fretting as she watched him laying motionless two years ago.
While Lee Ho Jung was convinced it was time for her son to give up racing, Christian was undaunted.
Instead, he told her: "Mummy, your passion is shopping, right? If you got yourself hurt while shopping, will you stop shopping?
"Racing is my passion, so I want to continue racing."
And he has not looked back.
In fact, Christian has taken the racing scene by storm, becoming the first Singaporean to win a World Series Karting heats race in February.
He has also emerged as the top-ranked driver in Asia and is among the top 15 in the world for his age group.
Even so, Christian has no plans to slow down.
Seeing his potential, his parents are making sure they leave no stone unturned and are willing to do anything within their means to let him live his dream.
Early this year, they decided to move to Milan, Italy, where Christian can train and compete alongside some of the world's best racers.
While there, they have also engaged former world karting champion, Felice Tiene, as Christian's personal coach.
Christian's father, Lowell Ho, told The New Paper in an interview yesterday: "Just like Joseph Schooling, who's based in the US where the best swimmers are, Italy is where the best drivers are.
"Karting is very age restricted, so you've got to start young. That's why we chose to go to Italy while Christian is still young."
Asked about the cost they have to bear, Ho, a shipping company director, declined to give details but revealed that it was a six-figure sum.
Christian had picked up go-karting during a family trip to Phuket when he was seven. There, he shone with his natural talent in racing.
Ho recalled: "He surprised everyone on the circuit because he didn't spin out even on his first attempt at karting.
"He was also really fast and beat everyone except me and my brother, so the circuit owner told us that we should train him because he was a natural."
Since he turned competitive at nine, Christian has been dreaming of reaching the Formula One level one day.
Christian's personal manager and owner of the IS Racing team, Imran Shaharom, said: "Unlike other children, who do go-karting as a hobby, Christian has always been serious about it.
"He treats it like his career and for him, it's make or break. He's very, very determined to do well."
Professionalism has never been a problem for Christian either.
"Christian's the one who pushes everyone around him," said Tiene.
"Now you can see him playing and chilling, but he's a totally different boy on the track and when he competes.
"He's very serious and he doesn't want to be just No. 1 in Asia, he wants to be better than that."
Christian, who turns 12 in October, is all set to move up to the Junior category, where he will compete with 12-14 year olds.
Having "graduated" from the Mini category, which he had made to look like a walk in the park, Christian is gearing up to prove himself with the bigger boys.
With one Juniors race under his belt from last November, Christian said: "The Junior's kart is much faster, and I was quite shocked by its speed when I first tried it, but I really like how fast it went.
"It doesn't matter if I'm with the older boys. I believe in myself and I like the thrill of competing, so I'm excited for what's ahead."
For now, Christian knows that his education is equally important, but has the backing of his parents to pursue racing over studies.
Said Lee: "We know that go-karting is his passion, so we don't mind him prioritising that.
"In the long run, we hope to see him become a professional race driver, so while he's still at it, we'll give him our fullest support."
Although Christian will find himself in unchartered waters as he competes in a new category, he is fearless with his targets this year.
"I want to break into the top three in Asia and top 20 or 30 in Europe (in the Juniors) by the end of this year," he said.
"It's going to be a lot of work, but I've experienced losing when I was in the Mini category too, so it's like going a full circle."