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Wang Meng Meng
Saturday, Sep 27, 2014

Sports

Special Olympics trio set for 21km race

The Straits Times | Wang Meng Meng | Saturday, Sep 27, 2014

From left: Determined runners Lee Lin Han, Shaun Chui and Salihin Sinai will be followed by their volunteer coaches from Special Olympics Singapore at the ST Run this Sunday.

The may face some difficulties in everyday life but Lee Lin Han, Salihin Sinai and Shaun Chui do not consider that being intellectually disabled is an obstacle when it comes to endurance running.

The gutsy trio will run in the half-marathon at this Sunday's Straits Times Run at the Hub.

As Salihin, a 27-year-old dental technician, said excitedly: "I am looking forward to running my first 21km race this year. I have been running regularly after office hours to train for this run."

Lee, 25, added: "I am happy to run with my friends!"

But the three amigos will not be alone. Following them will be their coaches from Special Olympics Singapore, a non-profit organisation providing year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics Singapore volunteer coaches Akmal Abdul Rahman (partnering Chui), Yeo Jia Chyang (Salihin) and Soo Han Sen (Lee) will be pounding the pavement alongside them.

Soo, a chemistry professor at Nanyang Technological University, said the three Special Olympics runners are more than capable of lasting the distance.

He said: "All three of them are fairly independent runners. They train regularly and know the routes fairly well. Our role is to help them maintain their pace and improve their timing."

Akmal, a 33-year-old computer programmer, added: "I hope that through this run, others can see them for their ability to participate in these runs rather than to just see their disabilities."

All three have run in half-marathons before and Lee has even completed a full marathon while Salihin is also an avid triathlete.

They work on their speed every Monday at the track, with endurance runs on Thursdays.

Yeo, 38, who has been partnering Special Olympics athletes since 2003, said he has nothing but admiration for Lee, Salihin and Chui.

The IT consultant said: "The athletes showed great perseverance and and commitment to come down and complete their training sessions.

"People with intellectual disability can achieve whatever they set out to accomplish with training and perseverance."

meng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sep 25, 2014.
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