SINGAPORE: Table tennis para-athlete Jason Chee has won gold in the men's singles Class 2 round robin event at the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The 34-year-old defeated Thai paddler Thirayu Chueawong 3-0 on Friday (Sep 22) to top his group ahead of four others. Earlier, he defeated another Thai, Thinathet Natthawut, 3-2.
He also defeated compatriots Eric Ting and Darren Chua 3-0 in both games on Thursday to make it four wins out of four.
Chee, who said he is "delighted" with his clean sweep, added that clinching the gold has banished the disappointment of missing out in 2015.
"Two years ago, I got silver for the same event," he said. "Now, I can forget about two years ago. It’s about this year, 2017. Forget the past, look ahead."
In 2015, Chee lost to arch rival Natthawut 2-3 in his penultimate game. He delivered against the Thai this time, calling it a crucial victory, but it was not without hiccups.
Chee was leading 2-0 but conceded the next two sets to let Natthawut back into the game. In the deciding set, Chee found himself 2-6 down.
"I told myself not to give up, one ball at a time," he said. "I did some deep breathing and came back to win the game 11-9."
Navy man Chee, who lost his left arm and both legs in a ship accident in 2012, told Channel NewsAsia last month that his main goal at the Games was to win at least a medal.
He achieved that earlier this week, after helping to clinch a bronze medal on Tuesday in the men's team class T1-3 round robin contest.
His medal-winning achievements come despite having recently lost his right eyeball to cancer.
Chee said he did not let the impairment affect him mentally while competing against opponents who have "two arms and two legs".
"I don’t say that because I lost one eye, I will lose eventually," he added. "I always tell myself that I still have to fight for it. I mean I still can see with my left eye, so just play on."
Chee wants to dedicate the gold medal to his teammates and coaches, while reserving special mention for his father and late mother.
"I want to say thanks to every Singaporean who came all the way to KL to support me," he said. "With this medal, I hope to inspire people that despite losing so many things, life still goes on."
CHEE PRAISED FOR "TENACITY AND DETERMINATION"
In a Facebook post on Friday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu congratulated Chee on his achievement and praised him for his attitude.
"This gold medal showed what tenacity and determination can achieve," she said. "When so many obstacles came the way of Jason, his 'never say die' attitude puts him back on his feet again."
Ms Fu added that the way Chee overcomes "every curve ball life has given him" is an inspiration to many.
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin also lauded Chee's achievements, commending him for having an "indomitable" spirit.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said he was an "inspiration", recalling how Chee had targeted a win despite only having one eye.
"You are simply great and an inspiration to all of us. Singapore is so proud of your achievements and the SAF honoured to have you among its ranks," said Dr Ng.