Para-bowler Rex Tan eyes gold against able-bodied rivals
Rex Tan bounced back from injuries to win Asiad bronze
Para-bowler Rex Tan suffered multiple fractures on his right wrist, hand and shoulder just six months before last year's Asian Para Games.
He took three months to recover from those injuries which he sustained after falling down an escalator. The recovery was not easy as he already has right upper limb deficiency before the fall.
The 42-year-old bowls with his left arm, but the injuries left him with stability issues and it felt different when he rolled a bowling ball down the lane again.
Undaunted, Tan switched to new bowling techniques, which took some getting used to.
He was still scoring poorly just two months before October's Asiad in Indonesia, but he did not give up.
Eventually, Tan's perseverance paid off when he clinched a joint-bronze medal in the mixed singles TPB10 event.
Yesterday, the father of two received a boost in his sporting career when he was named among 19 new recipients of the Sports Excellence (Spex) Scholarship at a ceremony at the Swissotel The Stamford hotel.
Thanks to the scholarship, which offers financial and programme support to its recipients, Tan, who stopped work as an IT support staff member in 2017, will be able to train full-time and further develop his sporting career.
A delighted Tan said yesterday: "Before, I was juggling between being a father, working and (being) a bowler. But now, with the Spex scholarship, I can say that bowling is my career."
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, who handed out the scholarships, said they hope to "support our most determined athletes in giving their best at the highest levels of competition".
She said: "To the 19 athletes receiving the Spex scholarship tonight, my heartiest congratulations to all of you.
"You have not only demonstrated the potential to go far, more importantly, you have shown the drive, the determination, the hunger to reach your targets."
Tan has already set his sights on his next target - next month's Thailand International Open. He will be competing against able-bodied bowlers for the first time but is aiming for gold nonetheless.
"I want to prove to Singapore that disabled athletes are able to achieve as equally as able(-bodied) athletes," said Tan, who has been a national para-bowler for 13 years.
Another newly minted Spex scholar, 24-year-old archer Contessa Loh, is eyeing a spot at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, where her pet event, shooting compound, is set to debut.
Loh narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in the compound mixed-team event at last year's Asian Games, where she also set two personal bests.
She has been working part-time as an archery coach at her club while training full-time.
Minister Fu added that besides supporting the athletes on their sporting journeys, they also recognise the need to prepare them for life after sport.
To that end, the authorities have been expanding their Spex business and Spex education networks which offer Singapore athletes with job and education opportunities with flexible arrangements.
The new organisations that have come on board this year include James Cook University, Singapore Institute of Technology, Old Town White Coffee and Toyota Motor Asia Pacific.