Raja Singh leads Singapore to biggest haul at Asean Para Games

| Singapore | 11 Dec 2015 Asia Samachar |
Raja Singh (left, on wheelchair). - PHOTO FROM HIS FACEBOOK
Raja Singh (left, on wheelchair). – PHOTO FROM HIS FACEBOOK

Raja Singh, a former commando who became paralysed in a cycling accident in his 20s, has been in the Singapore news for a some months now. The chef de mission of the Singapore’s Asean Para Games that ended earlier this week certainly deserves the limelight.

It looks like the former commando sergeant and boxing coach had managed to inspire his team to its best ever performance at the games organised under the banner of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Singapore had its biggest haul of medals at #APG2015, topping its earlier record in 2001. This time, Singapore won 24 golds, 17 silvers and 22 bronzes, a total of 63 medals, to take the fifth spot. In 2001, the republic snapped up 16 golds, 10 silvers and 11 bronzes.

SEE ALSO: Melvinder vows Singapore ‘will do better’ at next Asean Para Games

For Raja, it has been quite a travel since 1983. While training for a triathlon, his cycle hit a stationary truck.

“Your whole life comes crashing down when you become paralysed at 22. I became angry, depressed and could not accept the truth,” the father of one told an interview with The Straits Times.

Acceptance came with time and three years later, Raja competed as a wheelchair racer at the Far East and South Pacific (Fespic) Games for the Disabled in Indonesia. He returned home with four medals in his suitcase and a renewed hunger within himself.

It spurred him to two Paralympic appearances in Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992), and a four-gold haul from the 1989 Fespic Games in Japan, which led to his nomination in 1990 for the Singapore National Olympic Council’s (SNOC) Sportsman of the Year award, the ST report adds.

Raja co-founded medical rehabilitation equipment and supplies company DNR Wheels in 1994 and now has 39 employees and leases an 18,000 sq ft office-cum-warehouse facility in Ubi.

In another interview, Raja said he believed that the integration of mainstream and para sports is one of the key ways to raise the standards of Singapore’s para sports scene.

“Sports must be integrated in all the hospitals and schools for people with special needs to make sure that sports is one of the priorities for advanced rehabilitation. People will become healthier; the good ones will go on to participate in international meets, and we won’t have to depend on just 100 athletes. We can depend on 5,000 athletes,” he says in the interview.

Raja, the vice-president of the Singapore Disability Sports Council and former Paralympian, was the only disabled chief de missions among the 11 competing countries.

The 8th Asean Para Games held in Singapore from Dec 3-9 hosted 1,300 disabled athletes and more than 500 officials.

Singapore APG chef de mission Raja Singh
RAJA SINGH: Chef de mission of the Singapore Asean Para Games for 2009 and 2015.
Raja Singh, 53

• Former commando sergeant and current Singapore Disability Sports Council vice-president.
• Chef de mission for Team Singapore at 2009 and 2015 APG.
• Former wheelchair racer who competed at the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games.
• Won four golds and three silvers at the 1989 Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled in Japan.
• Nominated for the 1989 Singapore National Olympic Council's Sportsman of the Year award. Did not win but became first para athlete to win a Meritorious Award.
SOURCE: The Straits Times (NOV 23, 2015)


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