Archery empowers Fuchs
Amputated below left knee, the national para-archer finds himself a better person because of the sport
The word "empowering" is not the kind one usually associates with a freak accident.
But, four years after a motorcycle accident left him amputated below the left knee, national para-archer Robert Fuchs finds himself a better man, all thanks to archery.
The 43-year-old, who will represent Singapore in the Oct 6-13 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, said: "Definitely I would say I'm a better person. I've seen and learnt things which previously I probably wouldn't have.
"Being in the Singapore team, you see the other athletes with their own disabilities and issues, and personal troubles.
"But, seeing the whole team running, kicking, that whole vibe, it empowers you to get over your problems."
Fuchs, who was born in Romania, moved to Singapore in 2005 and attained citizenship in 2014. And it was only in November that year - just five months after his accident - that he picked up archery.
He displayed a real knack for the sport, going on to win the gold at the 2015 Asean Para Games and bronze in the 2017 edition in the mixed team compound event.
Recalling his first major Games experience at the 2015 Asean Para Games, he said: "My last shot, I was shivering out of my bones.
"I knew that I had one arrow to go and the gold was at stake. That was when I thought that I had to do something about it."
In archery, athletes have to strengthen their core to maintain stability when drawing the bow, with draw weights reaching up to 70lb (31.75kg) for compound bows.
It is all the more challenging for para-athletes like Fuchs, who has to rely on a single calf for support.
Concentration is also key, and an archer must learn to isolate his mind from distractions.
To address these areas, Fuchs does exercises like planks and Russian twists regularly to strengthen his core, as well as meditation and breathing exercises to increase focus.
On his progress, the married father of one broke out in Singlish and chuckled:"Last time I was too kanchiong (nervous) lah.
"In archery, you cannot think, everything has to be mechanical, automated, but you can't rush. I used to shoot very quickly but now I take my time with the shot."
In the build-up to the Asiad, the project manager at Nokia has been clocking hours in the gym and at the range after work on weekdays and Saturdays.
It is a punishing schedule and, while he has considered dropping out, his love for archery keeps him going.
"Archery is something which is a hobby and a pleasure. It's relaxing and I'm enjoying what I'm doing, otherwise I would also not be doing this."
With medals at his last two major meets, Fuchs - who will be competing in the individual and mixed team compound events - heads to the Games in high confidence, but he shrugged off talk of a medal.
He said: "It's important what medal you're bringing home, but it's not the ultimate measure.
"It's a learning curve, and the ultimate element is to achieve a better performance than in the past - and know that as an athlete I am improving."