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A chance meeting, and someone’s life has been changed

A chance meeting in a coffee-shop in Potong Pasir between a wheelchair-bound resident and a potential Singapore People’s Party (SPP) candidate at the next General Elections has led to what can only be described as a life-changing meeting.

On 2 April, when details of the upcoming 2019 World Para-Swimming World Series Singapore leg which will be held in May at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, one name stood out among the quartet which will swim in the relay which will participate in the meet.

Along with Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh, Toh Wei Soong, Eugene Png was named as the final relay member for the quartet.

Png, who is 46-years-old, has been able to make the cut after only getting back into the swimming pool last August after a hiatus of more than five years.

He has stayed away from the swimming pool since 2014 after he struck with a condition called peripheral neuropathy where damage to his peripheral nerves caused weakness, numbness and pain.

He has been in a wheelchair since 2014 and was forced to give up his job as a freelance swimming coach.

Since 2014, life was just a daily grind of shuttling between his home and the neighbourhood coffee shops, as he was not able to work.

But all of that changed in July 2018, when he met SPP’s Jose Raymond in a coffee-shop in Potong Pasir. Mr Jose is by now a familiar face in the constituency due to his ground activities, block visits and grassroots outreach strategy.

That meeting then led to a subsequent meeting with former national swimmer Ang Peng Siong within a few days and within a week, Png was back in the pool at Farrer Park Swimming Complex.

Both Mr Jose and Mr Ang are founding Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Chiam See Tong Sports Fund which was set up in 2017 to assist athletes with added support.

See the video here.

In a Facebook post put up hours after Png was announced as one of Team Singapore’s swimmers for the World Para-Swimming World Series event, Png put up a Facebook post, saying: “So much has happened since the morning that Jose Raymond brought Coach Ang Peng Siong to Potong Pasir to have breakfast with me.

“I’ve returned to the pool, trained under Coach Ang and Coach Jun Han and soon I will be swimming at the World Para-Swimming Championship Series in Singapore.

“I want to thank all my family and friends for your support and faith in me. I will do my very best come May at the games.”

Said Mr Raymond: “Eugene Png has been named as part of the Team Singapore contingent for the 2019 World Para-Swimming World Series which will be held next month at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

“Eugene has shown me what perseverance, determination and endurance are all about. He is an inspiration to me. And to all of us.”

Mr Raymond further added that he hopes that Png’s story and his journey can inspire others to believe in their own abilities.

“We are all gifted in our own special ways, and I do hope that many others will also be inspired by Eugene’s story because sometimes all it takes is one spark to light a fire.”