Team Singapore

Toh completes his hat-trick of medals

He wins the men's S7 100m backstroke bronze to add to his two golds

While some swimmers may crumble at the sight of strong opponents, Toh Wei Soong sees it as a test to gauge himself against the elite.

It is that willingness to see the glass as always half-full, to push harder and to go farther that reaped rewards aplenty at the ongoing Asian Para Games in Jakarta.

The 20-year-old won his third medal, a bronze, in the men's 100m S7 backstroke with a personal best of 1min 20.21sec as he wrapped up his campaign at the Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Centre yesterday.

Japan's Daisuke Ejima (1:19.90) and the Philippines' Ernie Gawilan (both 1:19.90) were jointly awarded the gold.

HAT-TRICK OF MEDALS

Toh had earlier won the 100m freestyle S7 title in a PB 1:03.16 on Tuesday and another gold in the 50m freestyle S7 on Sunday to complete a hat-trick of medals in all his three events.

Although he did not stand top of the podium yesterday, Toh, who had been diagnosed with transverse myelitis (an inflammation of the spinal cord, which restricts the use of his legs) when he was two, believes he delivered his best performance in the Indonesian capital.

"That was the best I had swum at this meet, despite me not winning the gold," he told The Straits Times.

"That's because every competitor is very talented.

If I am prepared to do what it takes to win, I must also be prepared to lose. Toh Wei Soong, on not winning the men’s S7 100m backstroke yesterday.

"I had to fight every metre of the race and I know that this experience will get me stronger."

Key to that strong swim was embracing his fears and harnessing it as a form of positive energy.

Toh said: "I had strong challengers around me for this race. If I am prepared to do what it takes to win, I must also be prepared to lose.

"I cannot be afraid of losing. So I tapped into my courage and kept giving my best."

The Asian Para Games medals marked a breakthrough year for the swimmer, who had also won a 50m freestyle bronze medal in April's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

He will now take a short break to travel and write a book yet to be entitled, as well as "tinker with other artistic projects" like film making and music production.

But Toh will not neglect the pool in his relentless quest to his ultimate goals in the water.

He said: "These Games proved that the freestyle technique I had worked on in the past few months is correct.

"But I still need to learn a few new tricks for backstroke like controlling my breathing.

"I always believe that I could have done better.

"The long-term plan is to compete at the Paralympics but my immediate goal is to get as strong as possible.

"Failure comes when one succumbs to stagnation."

Team Singapore