Hong Kong swimmer Tang Wai-lok, 19, has taken gold in the Paralympic Games in Rio, winning the men’s 200 metre freestyle. Not only that but he scored a new record of one minute and 56.32 seconds at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium, the same pool where the Olympic Games were held a month ago and which will be dismantled after these Games.
Thomas Hamer of Great Britain and Australian Daniel Fox came second and third respectively in 1:56.58 and 1:56.69.
The 19-year-old Tang also won gold at the 2015 INAS Global Games in Ecuador in 2:02.13 and the 2014 Incheon Asian Paralympic Games in 1:59.13. He has already proved his ability in Rio by just missing a podium position when he came fourth in the men’s 100 metre backstroke.
“Tang’s excellent results at the Paralympic Games have encouraged us a lot,” says Morry Pang Cheong-kau, a principal at Choi Jun School where Tang is studying. “His story serves as a confidence boost for our students who have mild intellectual disabilities. He proves that everyone is able to excel in different ways.”
Pang told Young Post that Tang has put in a lot of effort into training to overcome the difficulties that athletes with disabilities often experience. “One of his main problems is his inability to express himself. If he hasn’t had as good a swim as expected, he’ll be very tense and upset. It’s not easy for him to relieve the pressure and express it in ways other people can understand. It can be extremely hard and sometimes depressing for him to have to cope with that.”
“But Tang focused on his dreams of swimming brilliantly at the Games. That was how he could be more confident – rather than looking too much at when he didn’t do as well,” Pang added. “He also gained a lot of support from his parents, school, social workers and trainers who were always there when he was feeling down.”
In table tennis, Ng Mui-wui won a bronze medal in the women’s singles (class C11) when she defeated teammate Wong Ka-man, the defending champion, in straight games 15-13, 16-14, 11-8 in an all-Hong Kong clash.