Broken arm, but he goes on to become gold medal swim champ
National school swimmer is a record breaker and multiple gold-medal winner at 15
This National Day, we celebrate with 16 stories of people who overcame adversity to give back to society. Read their stories and watch the videos at tnp.sg/ndp2016
He was 11 when he broke his right arm in a cycling accident.
"It was the first week of the year-end holiday.
"I was cycling at the park connector with my mother when I fell. I realised immediately that my arm was broken, as it was at a weird angle," said national school swimmer Maximillian Ang, 15.
His parents were worried it would affect his swimming and chances of getting into the Singapore Sports School (SSS) under the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme.
DSA is a programme introduced in 2004 for students who are in Primary 6 or Secondary 4 to be guaranteed a place in a secondary school or junior college respectively.
Maximillian, affectionately known as Max, had a strong chance since earlier that year he had broken Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling's national age-group record in the 200m individual medley (IM) by shaving off 0.42sec.
Seven months after his fall, he represented Singapore at the South-east Asia Age Group Swimming Championship in Brunei and brought back a silver in the 200m breaststroke.
He even got into SSS through his sporting prowess and is currently a Singapore Pools Sports Excellence Scholar. The scholarship is funded by Tote Board.
UnderMr Leonard Lim, who started coaching him when he was four, Max has gone on to break more records. He got the gold in the 200m breaststroke, 200m and 400m IM, and a silver medal in 100m breaststroke in the National Age Group Championships in March 2014.
He was also a member of the team that broke the Under-14 (U14) national record in the 4x200m freestyle.
Two months later, he hauled in gold medals in the 200m and 400m IM, and 200m breaststroke and a silver medal for the 100m breaststroke, and was awarded the Most Valuable Player award in the South-east Asia Swimming Age Group Meet in Singapore.
His haul for the past two years was even more impressive - 10 gold medals for individual events at National Time Trials and a member of the team that broke the U14 national record for 400m IM.
In the last two months, Max has won gold medals in the 200m and 400m IM at the Asian Schools Swimming Championships, and another gold in the 400m IM at Singapore National Swimming Championships.
He also qualified for the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and will be heading to Hawaii at the end of August. That almost did not happen.
A shoulder twitch at the 2016 Singapore National Age Group Championships got Max disqualified for his pet event - the 200m IM, and almost cost him his chance at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
"But I came back the next day and swam the 400m IM. I managed to beat my personal best time by nearly seven seconds," said the self-professed "happy-go-lucky guy".
The last time Singapore sent a team to the Junior Pan Pacific Championships was in 2005.
His father Melvyn Ang, 50, once held the national records for men's 100m breaststroke, Under-17 and U14 100m and 200m breaststroke.
He said he did not intend for Max to swim competitively but wanted his three children to learn to swim as a life skill.
Mr Ang said his one regret in life was to quit swimming after Secondary 4.
"He (Max) must not make that same mistake, if he has the support and he's capable.
"I told him that when you are behind your cohort in studies, you can work hard to regain your place. But not in swimming. All will be lost when you give it up," he said.
So Max now has his sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"I'm slowly building up to that. My immediate goal is to qualify for the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur next year," he said.
TNP SPIRIT OF 16 GIVINGBACK
The beneficiary is St Andrew’s School Building Fund