SINGAPORE — Para-bowler Eric Foo emerged as the biggest winner at the annual Singapore Disability Sports Awards on Friday (7 August), clinching both the Sportsman of the Year title and the Team of the Year honours with Muhammad Farhan Ismail.
The 34-year-old, who has intellectual impairment, capped a stellar year which saw him winning two golds and a silver at the 2019 Thailand World Para Bowling Championships, and then repeating the feat at the 2019 Philippines World Para Bowling Championships.
Four of his medals were in individual competitions, while the other two were in team events with Farhan.
“We had close fights with the Malaysian para bowlers during the competitions, but we never gave up, and kept fighting all the way to the end,” Foo told Yahoo News Singapore after winning the awards.
“The COVID-19 (pandemic) has caused many events to be cancelled this year, but Farhan and I will continue to train hard and prepare for next year’s Asean Para Games in Vietnam.”
Florence Khemlani, president of Bowling Association for the Disabled (Singapore), paid tribute to Foo’s dedication in training.
“He has set an example for his teammates and we are so pleased that he has been recognised for his efforts. For bowling to win in two award categories is testament to the work that the association does and we want to continue developing the sport,” she said.
Syahidah Alim named Sportswoman of the Year
World No. 1 women’s para-archer Nur Syahidah Alim earned the Sportswoman of the Year honours, after a fairytale year when she won golds at the World Para Archery Championships and the Asian Para Archery Championships.
Her coach Pang Qing Liang also picked up the Coach of the Year (High Performance) award, despite starting coaching just over a year ago. At age 29, he was also the youngest coach to be nominated.
Syahidah and Pang plan to continue their partnership in hopes of achieving a podium finish at the Tokyo Paralympic Games next year.
Para swimmer Toh Wei Soong was named Sportsboy of the Year for the second year in a row, after he clinched two of the three medals won by Singapore at the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series. He also won two golds at the Japan Para Swimming Championships last year.
Veteran sports administrator Henry Tan was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, for serving as volunteer of Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) from 1974 to 2012, and as the council’s executive director from 2012 until his retirement in 2017.
During that time, he was also a volunteer coach for the wheelchair tennis team, and served as chef de mission for the 2004 Asean Para Games, 2004 Paralympic Games and 2010 Asian Para Games.
Minister commends commitment amid pandemic
This year’s Singapore Disability Sports Awards – the third time it was being held after 2019 and 2008 – was presented by Haw Par Corporation, and was held virtually and streamed live on SDSC’s Facebook page.
Guest-of-honour Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, commended the para-athletes for their commitment to their sport amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the cancellation of the 2020 Asean Para Games and the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics due to COVID-19, our athletes have continued to adapt and train hard under extraordinary circumstances,” he said during the online ceremony.
“COVID-19 has been tough on all of us, but it also presented us with the opportunity to develop creative ways for persons with disabilities to engage with sports at home. Every one of us is different and special in our own ways; and in our diversity, we will find strength and beauty.”
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