Swimming helped amputee move forward from accident
Singapore hosts the 8th Asean Para Games until Dec 9. Ahead of the games we talked to some of the athletes who will represent Singapore.
He was in the prime of his life when a tragic accident took away much of his right leg.
There were some dark days as he wondered what there was left for him in life. But an old magazine article held the key to his rehabilitation.
In 2004, Mr James Leo, then 25, was riding his motorcycle on Fort Road when a van crashed into him.
He had just graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and had started working at Seagate as an engineer.
His right leg was too badly damaged.
"The doctors tried to save my leg, but by that time the leg already had gangrene," the 36-year-old told The New Paper.
Mr Leo agreed to amputate from the knee down.
He was determined to start his rehabilitation as soon as he could, though Mr Leo admits he was worried for his future.
"I knew my parents took it hard but they put on a brave face so that I would not feel bad," he said.
He remembered an article he read about para-swimmer Theresa Goh just a few months before the accident.
That particular story, inspiring even before losing his leg, now held greater meaning for Mr Leo.
"So, I decided to suck it up," he added.
In bid to kick-start his rehabilitation and move forward he contacted the Singapore Sports Disability Council and asked how he could get into swimming as a para-athlete.
"I had to re-learn how to swim but after a while, I managed to do well and went on to represent Singapore in the 2005 Asean Para Games," said Mr Leo.
For this games, he just aims to get on the podium for because he feels that here are other younger competitors.
Mr Leo will be competing in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly and can't wait to show off what he can do in front of the home crowd.
"For me, just to get on the podium is an achievement," he said.
"And it means I am doing Singapore proud by adding to the medal tally."
Dec 4–Dec 8
OCBC Aquatic Centre
Get the full schedule of the games here.