14-year-old Jacob Wong Khye Ern was so hyped up about his Special Olympics debut that when misfortune struck, he took it like the champ he was.
Coach Noor Hanif Sulaimee recollected: “We were having a weather acclimatisation training session to get them used to the weather and Jacob slipped and fell on his right thigh. He was very disappointed to miss his 200m race. We explained to him after he recovers, he will be able to come back stronger for his two other races.”
The youngster was the headline act of the day what with Singapore’s sprinters and bowlers stealing the show with one gold, one silver and two bronzes. He clocked a time of 14.05 sec to finish first in the M3 division of the 100m on Tuesday (19 March).
“Saying (I’m) proud would be an understatement seeing how he performed today,” said Hanif. “Not just how he performed but the courage and confidence he had coming after an injury to put in one of his best performance is very inspiring to me. This kid has the heart of a lion!”
“I was very excited to run today in the 100m. After watching my other teammates run, I also could not wait to run,” Jacob chimed in.
Jacob was the third of Singapore’s sprinters to win a gold medal at the Special Olympics after 15-year-old Nurshalini Sahnef who snagged the country’s first gold in the 200m F2 division on Saturday (16 March) and 16-year-old Maveric Lee in the 200m M8 division on Sunday (17 March).
In the 400m F3 division, Priyadashani Jeyabalan took home a bronze medal with a time of 1:31.34.
Held from 14 March to 21 March, this year’s Special Olympics World Games marked Singapore’s 10th year of participation; featuring about 7,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from more than 190 nations, making it the largest number of participants in the event’s history yet. The athletes are distinguished by different divisions based on factors such as their age, gender as well as their level of ability.
As for Singapore’s bowlers, Sarhan Zubir and Beh Jian Kai from the men’s doubles D12 division notched 961 pinfalls to finish second behind Australia’s Grant Stephen Francis and Jason Holley while Siti Nurhamizah Hamzah and Assekin Mohamed Anuar managed to clinch the bronze in the women’s doubles D7 division.
Coach Adam Lim expressed his pride for the bowlers’ performance and commended them on their efforts in delivering their best to “bring home some medals”. He also hoped that the experience would “make them much better bowlers down the line”.
Singapore’s total medal tally at the Special Olympics currently stands at four gold, four silver and seven bronze.