Nearly five years ago Singapore’s Zac Leow Zi Xiang was told he’d never walk again.
On Friday (October 12) he ran in the men’s 1500m T37/38 final at the Indonesia 2018 Asia Para Games.
“I got into a cycling accident in Perth (Australia) where I was doing my honours project,” Leow Zi Xiang said in Jakarta.
“My bike got caught in a drain and I flipped over which crushed my spinal cord and [made me a] spinal incomplete patient.
“So I’m a C1 incomplete and initially the doctors told me I would never walk again, but here I am, racing for my country. So pretty happy with that.”
The crash happened soon after he left Singapore to study in Australia, and his journey to a Para athletics career have inspired him to work even harder on his studies.
Currently a PHD candidate in exercise physiology and sports science at the University of Western Australia, Leow Zi Xiang is soaking up every bit of his experience at Indonesia 2018.
“I’m definitely thinking about giving back to the sports, hopefully in Singapore, if I do get a job there. And especially athletics or Para sports in particular. That would be awesome,” he said of his plans post-studies.
“It’s always not just textbook knowledge anymore. When I come to the Games I meet people who have got all sorts of stories and they are all amazing survivors of their story.
“And it just puts things into perspective about that the restrictions we have in the textbook, doesn’t necessarily transfer to reality.
“Meeting these people gives me out-of-the-box ideas of how should we do certain rehab or exercise to bring the best out of our athletes. So I’m really happy to be here.”
Leow Zi Xiang finished sixth out of six in the men’s 1500m T37/38 final at Indonesia 2018, some 36.19 seconds behind the runner in fifth, and 1:27.89 behind winner Teofilo Freitas from Timor-Leste.
But the Singaporean enjoyed every moment of it and says there will be no stopping him on his hopeful journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“I think everything is a step forward and this is really good build up to it,” he said of the next Paralympics.
“So I’m looking forward to what 2019 holds and then hopefully Tokyo 2020.”