St Hilda's captain Lester wins title in front of cancer-stricken dad
St Hilda's captain Lester wins East Zone crown in front of cancer-stricken father
St Hilda's Secondary School captain Lester Chua could not contemplate defeat in the final of the Schools East Zone B Division boys' volleyball final yesterday.
His 56-year-old father, who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, was watching him play for the first time.
Lester didn't disappoint his dad, helping his team retain their title on home ground with a 2-0 win over Dunman Secondary School yesterday.
After the win, the 15-year-old said: "My father has cancer and it's at the last stage already.
"He has never watched me play before, so I thought that I should grab the opportunity to show him my best.
"I think my father would be quite proud of my performance and the team's victory."
Chasing sporting success requires Lester to train daily, but he ensures that he spends whatever spare time he has with his father.
He said: "With this kind of training routine, I really don't have a lot of time to spend with my father and I worry in training everyday.
"Because I cannot use my phone, (I wouldn't know) if something happens to my father, so I'm actually quite afraid.
"I must use every opportunity to spend more time with him. I try to quickly finish studying, then at least have a word with him, have dinner with him."
Lester is thankful for the support from the people around him.
He said: "I want to thank all my teammates, my coaches and God for helping me.
"Without all this support, I don't think I can be standing here."
His coach Teo Siew Lan praised Lester's resilience and commended the team for their spirit.
It showed in yesterday's match as the team put up a cohesive performance to beat Dunman.
Both teams were neck and neck early in the first set, but St Hilda's started pulling away with the sides tied at 6-6 to eventually win the set 25-17.
Lester claimed the opening point of the following set with a venomous spike, and St Hilda's didn't look back after that, storming to a 25-16 win to clinch the match.
Teo said: "They played quite well.
"As compared to the last few games, they played up to their standards. We've had our setbacks but the boys were very focused today."
Teo believes the victory has provided the team with a solid foundation to retain their national title, although she also warned them against complacency.
She said: "If they continue performing like this and improving, they should be able to make it in the nationals.
"We will work towards that, but you cannot take anything for granted. Even though our past record is good, we still need to work very hard."
Dunman captain Zhang Zhen Hao feels that his team paid a heavy price for their errors.
He said: "We didn't perform very well but we have no regrets."
Meanwhile, the Dunman girls' team also retained their East Zone B Division title after overcoming Cedar Girls' Secondary School 2-1.
Said skipper Tan Mei En: "We're satisfied with our performance but we'll play better in the next round."
Despite the defeat, Cedar's captain Zoey Lum remained proud of her team.
She said: "We were a bit subdued after the match but we put up a good fight."