By Clara Yuan/Red Sports
National Stadium, Saturday, December 5, 2015 — Dr William Tan came in seventh with a timing of 18.77 seconds in the ASEAN Para Games Men’s 100m race.
For Dr William Tan, this was a “big comeback to wheelchair athletics after contracting stage four leukaemia”.
When asked about his performance today, he remarked, “I was a bit slow at the start.”
At the age of 58 years old, he is forty years older than his youngest rival in the event. He realised that “youth is a vital part of the event”. Nonetheless, he strongly believes in giving his best whatever the odds may be.
Dr Tan said, “My fellow competitors from the neighbouring countries have worked very hard and the landscape in wheelchair athletics has changed, they have all gotten really strong, especially Thailand and Cambodia.” He said that this has changed since his era, when Singapore were the powerhouse in Asia’s wheelchair athletics.
When asked about his decision to participate in wheelchair athletics at this ASEAN Games instead of table tennis, Dr Tan commented, “I had a lot more years of experience in wheelchair athletics whereas I only have five years of experience in table tennis.” Table Tennis remains as one of the sports passion that he would never give up, but his greatest passion still lies in wheelchair marathons. In fact, his age is a plus point in marathons.
“It had always been a dream for us that one day Singapore could host an event like that and it finally came through (after 17 years),” said Dr Tan, who was one of the small number of Paralympians that formed the inaugural Singapore’s Paralympic team in 1988.
He hopes that through the ASEAN Para Games, there will be greater awareness created and he looks forward to more opportunities and inclusiveness.
“It is wonderful in the sense that disabled athletes are given the opportunity to share with the Singapore community what it is like to be participating in sports in spite of the physical disability and are able to share with the community what the disabled community can do in many aspects of our lives,” added Dr Tan.
With Singapore being the home ground of the ASEAN Para Games, Dr Tan wants to give his support, not just in spirit, but also in terms of participation despite being 58 years old.
“I am glad I am here because I see myself, not so much about winning medals, but being a senior athlete mentoring the junior athletes, setting an example to them,” said Dr Tan.
More photos next page