Para-shooter Kelvin Aik zeroes in on positivity
Para shooter looks at positives after suffering a road accident 20 years ago
Like many young boys growing up, Kelvin Aik loved football as a kid, was good enough to play for his school and even had dreams of representing his country one day.
Things may not have panned out quite that way, after a road traffic accident 20 years ago left him paralysed from the waist down.
But, this week, he will be flying the flag for Singapore as one of 11 shooters bidding for glory on home soil at the Asean Para Games from Thursday to Dec 9.
The fact that the 40-year-old will even be competing is remarkable, considering that he picked up the sport only six months ago.
To be sure, Aik had also put in lots of hard work for the chance to do his country proud, albeit at the shooting range and not on the football field.
"This really is a renewed opportunity for me to be able to carry the Singapore flag," he told The New Paper on Tuesday, immediately after a six-hour training session that began at 9.30am.
"In the past, when I was offered the same opportunity, I always had to turn it down because putting food on the table for my family was my main priority.
"Now, the time is right... I don't have to worry about anything financially, and everyone has been very supportive, from my family to my bosses and my company, and especially my wife and son.
"I'm really looking forward to the Games and all my teammates and I are training very hard.
"We have to really thank the Singapore Disabled Sports Council (SDSC) and the Singapore National Paralympic Council (SNPC) for this opportunity to be part of Team Singapore and for the faith in us.
When asked about the secret to picking up shooting so quickly, Aik credited his coach Zhang Shao Ying, whom he describes as "most committed to ensuring the shooters get the best out of ourselves".
Throughout the 15-minute conversation, it was clear just how much positivity and determination he has.
Still, Aik admitted that there were dark times he had to overcome immediately after his accident.
He explained: "It is hard, especially if you're someone who used to be so active in sports.
"When you realise you will be paraplegic for the rest of your life, the most frequent question you ask yourself is, 'Why me?'.
"It was a real struggle for the first three weeks when I would put on a smile in the day when everyone visited me and tell them I would be okay but, when you're alone at night, staring at the four walls, that's when the tears flow.
"For me, I discovered it's very easy to live your life when you're not bothered or concerned by others' perception and views of you.
"Everything is about being positive and, like any normal human being, when I see an obstacle, I just cross it."
Aik certainly has not let being a paraplegic stop him from leading a perfectly normal life, having been married for 15 years, with a five-year-old son and holding a senior management role at a telco company.
While his approach to life is certainly inspiring, the humble Aik brushed off suggestions that he was doing something special and instead urged people in similar situations to make the most of their lives.
"Disability is God's gift, but being handicapped is man-made," he said.
"You can't say no to your disability, but whether or not you want to be handicapped is 100 per cent in your mind.
"I don't think there's anything extraordinary… it's just a normal life but I believe everyone is given an equal opportunity and I grabbed mine when it came along.
"If you really believe in yourself, step up and don't be bothered by any negativity people might give you."
Disability is God’s gift, but being handicapped is man-made. You can’t say no to your disability, but whether or not you want to be handicapped is 100 per cent in your mind.
- Singapore para-shooter Kelvin Aik, who is paralysed from the waist down
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