Team Singapore

Para star Chee overcomes odds to win gold

Five years ago, Jason Chee lost three limbs in a horrific ship accident. Four months ago, he lost his right eye to cancer.

But, yesterday, the para-paddler fought against all odds to clinch his first individual gold medal at the Asean Para Games (APG).

The 34-year-old navy serviceman tasted glory after beating Thai paddler Thirayu Chueawong 3-0 (11-8, 11-2, 12-10) in his final match of the men's singles class 2 round-robin event at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Paddlers in classes 1-5 compete in a wheelchair.

Chee also defeated another Thai, Thinathet Natthawut, 3-2, and both his compatriots Eric Ting and Darren Chua 3-0, winning all four matches to top the group.

Two years ago, Chee had narrowly missed out on the gold medal to Thinathet in the deciding match of the round-robin event.

He told The New Paper in a phone interview: "It was very tough playing against the Thais, but I am very proud of myself for winning the first gold medal for the individual event."

This is Chee's second medal at this year's APG, after winning bronze in the men's team T1-3 on Tuesday. Despite losing his right eye in May, Chee remained optimistic about getting back on track for the APG.

"During that time, my training was not that good because when the ball came to my right, I couldn't see the ball clearly," he said.

"But I told myself that I have to go through it and fight for it. By August, I played consistently well for my forehand.

"I feel extremely happy that I can carry on playing table tennis with my one eye."

Chee dedicated his gold medal to his father and late mother, as well as his coach and teammates, thanking them for their continuous support.

"I also want to thank every Singaporean who came down to KL to support me and my teammates, and not forgetting my navy colleagues from 191 Squadron HQ," he said.

"This gold medal is a message to all Singaporeans that although I lost three limbs and one eye, life still goes on. Keep fighting."

Team Singapore also bagged one silver and three bronze medals yesterday. - SHARIFAH MUNIRAH

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