Jason Chee

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Chee Weng Fai Jason (Chinese: 朱永辉; Jyutping: zyu1 wing5 fai1; born 26 January 1983),[1] also known as Jason Chee, is a Singaporean Navy serviceman and para table tennis player who has won gold medals at multiple editions of the ASEAN Para Games.

Pre-accident

"Even if I cannot get past the obstacles, it's all right. Just go for the next one. She taught me not to fear anything."
Chee in 2017 credited his late mother's wisdom for strengthening him.[2]

Chee started playing table tennis at the age of 5,[3] eventually representing Westlake Primary School in the sport.[4] He then studied at Guangyang Secondary School, where he joined the Boys' Brigade due to his admiration of their uniforms and marching.[4] Then, Chee moved on to study at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which he graduated from.[4]

His father, Chee Kwok Chor, aged 75/76 in 2017 and of Shanghainese descent, worked as a vegetable seller until his retirement in 2011.[2][4] Chee told of learning perseverance from his father, who for over 40 years refused to take a holiday from his work: collecting vegetables at 11.30pm from Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, and selling them the next day at Jalan Besar until 1pm.[4]

His mother, Chua Ah Lek, was a seamstress who died in 2011 due to kidney failure at the age of 65.[2][4] Chee has described his mother as having a no-nonsense attitude, who brought her only child to swimming lessons and cooking lessons (cooking was her passion), and also made him learn the computer, the electric organ and taekwondo. Chee quoted that his mother wanted him to learn more skills so that he would not "lose to anyone".[4] Chee has also told of his late mother's wisdom having made him stronger in dealing with his challenges.[2]

Accident and recovery (2012–2013)

At the time of his accident, Chee was serving as a Singapore Armed Forces regular serviceman in the Republic of Singapore Navy with a rank of Military Expert-2. On 10 December 2012, while on board the RSS Endeavour at Changi Naval Base, Chee suffered a serious accident when he was caught between a motorised winch and a berthing rope he was checking on.[5] The incident caused Chee to lose both his legs, his left arm (with his dominant left hand), one whole right finger and parts of two other right fingers.[6][7]

Chee's accident resulted in Singaporeans coming forward to donate O+ blood, prompting the National Blood Programme to assure that there were already enough blood supplies for Chee and "clarify that directed and replacement donations (where families and friends are obliged to donate blood for the patient or to replace blood used by the patient) are not practised in Singapore".[8] Chee was hospitalized until June 2013.[9] He had suffered from phantom limb pain for three or four months, but had dealt with it by not thinking of his missing limbs.[4]

Beginning para table tennis; ASEAN team gold (2013–2016)

"Just move on ... Once I'm negative, I will think foolish things. What for? Being positive is very important so that you can do more things and achieve your goals ... If I don’t give up, I will fulfil anything that I want".
Chee in an interview published in January 2014, regarding how he coped with his accident, and his biggest aim to play in the Paralympics[3]

In June 2013, Chee began playing para table tennis while equipped with prosthetic fingers; his efforts were supported by the Singapore Disability Sports Council.[3] He formerly played table tennis with his left hand, but since his left arm had been amputated, he had to learn to play para table tennis with his right arm.[4]

In September 2013, Chee won two gold medals in para table tennis at Singapore's 8th National Disability League for para table tennis.[1][10]

At the January 2014 ASEAN Para Games, Chee debuted for the Singapore national team by teaming with Darren Chua to win the bronze medal for the men's team Class 3 para table tennis event.[6] At the same Games, Chee also won a silver in the men's individual Class 2 para table tennis event.[1] Chee has been coached by Chia Chong Boon.[3]

In June 2014, Chee returned to work in the Singapore Navy, it being 18 months after his accident; he was assigned to be an operations supervisor in 191 Squadron.[11] Concurrently, Chee was also studying for a degree in mathematics at the Singapore University of Social Sciences; such education was a wish of his late mother.[2][11]

At the ITTF 3rd Taichung Table Tennis Open for the Disabled in August 2015, Chee won a bronze for the men's singles Class 2 event.[1][12]

In December 2015 at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, Chee helped Singapore win their first gold medal for para table tennis at the ASEAN Para Games by winning both his singles matches and his doubles match with team-mate Aaron Yeo. As a result, Singapore overcame Thailand 3–1 in the men's team Class 1–2 contest for the gold.[1][13]

Eye cancer and ASEAN individual gold (2017–present)

"Even though so many things happen to me, importantly I still can see what is in front of me. I can see a rainbow, I can see the sun, I can see the moon. I mean, I'm still alive lah. I cherish every moment."
Chee in an interview published in October 2017, on dealing with challenges, including losing his right eye.[4]

In April 2017, Chee began to lose vision in his right eye due to a tumour. In May 2017, he was diagnosed with choroidal melanoma, a form of eye cancer. It was found that the cancer had not spread beyond his right eye, and that month Chee underwent successful surgery to remove his right eye; he was fully discharged from hospitalization in June 2017.[14] The loss of his right eye affected Chee's depth perception, affecting his playing of para table tennis.[4]

In September 2017, Chee won a gold medal in the men's individual Class 2 para table tennis event during the 2017 ASEAN Para Games.[7][15] At the same Games, Chee also won a bronze in the men's team Class 1–3 para table tennis event (compared to Class 1–2 in the previous Games, Class 1–3 can feature less impaired para-athletes).[16]

In an interview published in October 2017, Chee said that he uses prosthetic legs to walk short distances while at work, but with the prosthetics it would take him 10 minutes to walk 25 metres. In contrast, his wheelchair can travel up to 12 kilometres per hour.[4] His role in the Navy at the time was a desk-bound training specialist at Changi Naval Base.[4] Chee also told of his target to graduate with a degree in mathematics in 2019/2020.[4]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Profile page for Chee Weng Fai Jason". Team Singapore. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Chen, May. "'Mum would be proud': Navy man Jason Chee who lost 3 limbs and eye draws strength from late mum". The Straits Times. Retrieved 30 September 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Inspiring story of Jason Chee, who lost his legs but will play for S'pore". AsiaOne. Retrieved 30 September 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Tan, Sumiko. "Lunch With Sumiko: Against the odds, Jason Chee triumphs". Retrieved 1 October 2017. 
  5. ^ "Navy regular critically injured after incident onboard ship". AsiaOne. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Wee, Tim. "Walking Tall Once More: The Jason Chee Story". SAFRA National Service Association. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Chia, Alvin (22 September 2017). "Asean Para Games: Jason Chee takes his first individual table tennis gold". The Straits Times. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  8. ^ "Sufficient blood for navy regular: National Blood Programme". AsiaOne. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  9. ^ Low, Lin Fhoong. "Navy man’s 1.67m dream". Today. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "Navy man Jason Chee's table-tennis victory". The Straits Times. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Lee, Jian Xuan. "Navy serviceman, Jason Chee, returns to work 18 months after accident". The Straits Times. Retrieved 30 September 2017. 
  12. ^ "ITTF 3rd Taichung Table Tennis Open for the Disabled 2015, Team Singapore Players Singles Results.". Singapore Disability Sports Council. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  13. ^ Wong, Jonathan. "Asean Para Games: Jason Chee delivers on promise". The Straits Times. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  14. ^ Haziq, Aqil. "Jason Chee, medal-winning para-athlete, loses right eye to cancer". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  15. ^ "ASEAN Para Games: Jason Chee wins gold in individual event". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  16. ^ "ASEAN Para Games: Jason Chee wins bronze in team event". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 30 September 2017. 
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