He can barely see the 10 pins, but bowler won gold
Elise Choi Ho-yee
Bowler Won Hon-yin sees only one-fifth as clearly as most people. That did not stop him from winning a gold medal at the first Asian Para Games in Guangzhou in December.
Won, 19, is a Vocational Training Council student who has been visually impaired since he was in primary school.
'I was upset when I [first realised] it, but now I think this is not a problem at all,' he says.
The Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled chose Won to take part in various competitions.
The group first noticed Won when he entered a fun day it held to choose athletes for the 2006 Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled - as the Asian Para Games was then known.
He was picked to represent Hong Kong at the Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a bowler because he showed potential in the sport.
'When I was little, my parents used to take me bowling, which sparked my interest,' he says.
But it is not easy for Won because he does not have a clear view of his target. He needs to co-ordinate his body well and has spent a lot of time mastering the skills.
At the beginning, Won needed to practise much more than normal people.
'I will not give up. I want to set an example to prove that disabled people can do better than normal people,' Won says.
Four months before the Asian Para Games, Won practised six hours every week, two hours more than his usual schedule.
In December, he received plenty of help from a sports psychologist who was working with the athletes.
'We went to the Games with a psychologist who has trained us over the past few months. The psychologist taught me the right way to think during the competition,' Won says.
'The training helped me a lot, because I felt less nervous. I was able to perform well.
'In previous competitions, I was always anxious. But after practising more and gaining more experience, I found I could concentrate easily in competition.'
Won was amazed to win a gold medal. 'I have never done so well. The result was beyond my expectations,' he says.
Won is grateful to his parents, who gave him the opportunity to bowl as a child and bought equipment for him.
He also appreciates the work of his bowling coaches who are volunteers.
'My ambition is to improve my skills in bowling and become a professional bowler,' he says.
Won hopes the government will build more public facilities where athletes can practise and improve their abilities.
'The government provides us with subsidies for renting private facilities to practise,' he says.
'But it is not enough to practise only four hours every week.'