Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hail Theresa Goh! My heroine

Addendum: Mr. Bernard Goh's ( Theresa's father) response (24.8.06):

Dear Dr Huang,
This is Bernard, Theresa's father. First, on behalf of the Goh Family, I must thank you for posting such kind words about Theresa and your positive view of the disabled community at large.We were directed to your blog by Kelly from the Singapore Disability Sports Council and I must tell you that my wife & I were very very touched when we read your comments. Not sure if you are a parent yourself, but if you were, you would understand how elated we are to hear others sing praises of our Theresa's acheivements. Once again, thank you!

TODAY • Tuesday • August 15, 2006

TAN YO-HINN yohinn@newstoday.com.sg

ON SUNDAY afternoon, Rose Goh received an SMS.

It was from her eldest daughter and top Singapore paralympic swimmer, Theresa, informing her she had just become a world record holder.

Still sceptical, Rose logged on to the website of the US Paralympic National Swimming Championships, which was held from Aug 10-12 in Texas. It quashed any lingering doubts.

Last Saturday (Sunday afternoon, Singapore time), the 19-year-old became the world 200m breaststroke record holder (SB4 classification), her winning time of 4 min 30.67 sec shaving nearly 39 seconds off the previous mark of 5:09.63s set by American Kara Sheridan in 2003.

SB4-classified athletes are those will full use of their arms and hands, but not their leg or trunk muscles.

“We were just speechless!” her father Bernard, a 49-year-old general manager at Asiatic Engineering Pte Ltd, said yesterday. Rose added: “As always, we just expected her to do her personal best, but never in our wildest dreams we’d expect her to achieve this, especially since she had also brought her school work there to do. It’s a mile-
stone in Singapore sports.”

For Rose and her husband, it made up for the years they had to endure stares, finger-pointing and curious looks whenever they were in public with Theresa.

“Many years ago, a parent saw Theresa in her wheelchair and explained to her children that jie jie (big sister in Mandarin) is in a wheelchair because she was naughty,” said Rose. “And once, she had diarrhoea while in kindergarten, but none of the teachers dared to handle her because they thought disabled people are very fragile.

“It wasn’t nice, but we believe it was due to ignorance, not malice. “Fortunately, the public is much more aware and understanding now.” Theresa was born with spina fida,a birth defect whereby a part of the spine was not formed properly.

She is already one of Singapore’s best known paralympic athletes, who only took up swimming at the age of 11 after watching a Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) swimming event.

It is the second time Theresa has held a world record, having briefly held the 50m breaststroke record in 2001. In April this year, she missed re-claiming that record — currently held by Ukraine’s Olena Akopyan — by 0.05s at the South Africa National Championships.

Theresa was also Singapore’s most bemedalled athlete at last December’s 3rd Asean Para Games in Manila, winning three gold medals (100m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m butterfly).

Out of the pool, Theresa, like many teenagers, enjoys shopping, watching television and surfing the Internet, and admires actress Angelina Jolie and footballer David Beckham.
She is also interested in a career in design or animation.

The spritely teenager was also named Her World Magazine’s Young Woman Achiever for 2005 to add to her Singapore Youth Award last year and the Singapore Disability Sports Council’s Sportswoman of the Year 2004.

Her next major assignment is November’s International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships, a 2008 Beijing Paralympics qualifier.

Last night, Theresa and Lim Keng Joo — Singapore’s other representative at the meet — as well as their coach, Ang Peng Siong, were welcomed back at Changi Airport by
Teo Ser Luck, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Theresa trains six times a week at Farrer Park Swimming Complex under Ang’s supervision.

She also attends psychology classes at Path Education Group — a private school — thrice weekly, and does part-time work at Standard Chartered Bank twice weekly under its Programme for Elite Athletes’ Career programme.

Theresa has two siblings, Marisa, 18, and Nicholas, 15.Nicholas turns 16 today, and the Gohs will have a quiet celebration. Theresa’s parents say she likes to keep a low-profile.

“She is very outgoing, but she’s not very comfortable in the limelight,” said Dad Bernard.

Rose added: “She also feels pressurised by growing public expectation of her to do well. But she’s coping with it steadily.”


My comments:

Hi Friends,

If we are on the lookout for world-class heroes and national icons, look no further.

Theresa is an example of someone who has beaten the odds, taken on the chin what life has dished out to her and made the best of it.

In fact, she has done much more than that. She has achieved what almost all Singaporeans will never achieve in a thousand lifetimes. She is a world record holder!

I do not know Theresa nor her family, but I can imagine the elation they feel now.

The pain and suffering that they felt in the past must now seem almost worth the while.

However, Singapore -not just the government but Singapore, the society, still has a long way to go to get rid of prejudices against those deemed dis-similar to the majority.
Be it physical ability or other racial-cultural attributes.

All of us should look beyond these differences and not just see but truly accept each other as a part of the whole.

In an extended way, outside our national borders, each human being, regardless of nationality or language, should see each homo-sapien as part of humanity.

Actually, the surest way for all of us to unite would be when aliens, be they, Klingons,Romulans,Vulcans or even Ferenghis ( yes even Ferenghis) attack our planet.
I know, most of you are sure by now that I have lost the plot and have watched too much Star Trek, but…

Anyway, before my credibility is lost completely, Congratulations Theresa and the Goh family!

Hail Theresa, my Heroine!

Cheers

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: If any readers know the Goh family, please convey to them my heart-felt wishes.


Addendum: Jerry Siah the organising chairman has requested for support for a forthcoming concert which all of us ( bar none) should support.
It is called A Nation in Concert. Please support!!! (click on link)

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what "A Nation In Concert" seeks to achieve. Please support us. See http://www.anationinconcert.com

Jerry
------------
You wrote:
"However, Singapore -not just the government but Singapore, the society, still has a long way to go to get rid of prejudices against those deemed dis-similar to the majority.
Be it physical ability or other racial-cultural attributes.

All of us should look beyond these differences and not just see but truly accept each other as a part of the whole.

In an extended way, outside our national borders, each human being, regardless of nationality or language, should see each homo-sapien as part of humanity."

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Jerry,
Congratulations! You and your committee are doing a great deal for all of us.
I will surely do my part to help you.
Best wishes,

Dr.H

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Ho,

Thank you for your support towards Theresa Goh and disabled athletes. We will help you convey your well-wishes to Theresa. This will mean a lot to her and others who are trying their best not to get subsumed by the pressure or their disabilities.

We hope that one day, more Singaporeans will give recognition to the disabled, who work as hard, if not harder, for the same things as you and we do.

Warmest Regards,
Kelly Fan
Corporate Communications
Singapore Disability Sports Council

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Kelly,
You are most welcome.
Best wishes to all your athletes,

Dr. Huang ( & not Dr.Ho)

Bernard Goh said...

Dear Dr Huang,

This is Bernard, Theresa's father. First, on behalf of the Goh Family, I must thank you for posting such kind words about Theresa and your positive view of the disabled community at large.

We were directed to your blog by Kelly from the Singapore Disability Sports Council and I must tell you that my wife & I were very very touched when we read your comments.

Not sure if you are a parent yourself, but if you were, you would understand how elated we are to hear others sing praises of our Theresa's acheivements.

Once again, thank you!

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Bernard, Mrs Goh & Theresa,
You are most welcome!
Very Best wishes,

Dr.Huang

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