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Cheong Lam San’s Breakthrough from Ping-Pong

Cheong Lam San, who previously worked as a tourist coach driver, lost both his legs in a traffic accident several years ago. Initially devastated, it is very fortunate that by participating in sports activities, coupled with support and encouragement from his family, he rediscovered the meaning of life and now makes the best of it. Cheong hopes that his personal experience may help other disabled individuals as well as sending a positive message to teenagers that life is valuable.

Learning to Strive to Become Strong

The 54-year-old Cheong Lam San took a relatively long period of time to adjust to losing his legs. He recalls, “The accident happened as I experienced a heart attack. When I regained consciousness, I had already been admitted to Hospital Conde S. Januário, with both my legs severed. At that time, I could not accept the reality; I was like a madman. It was very fortunate that I received counselling from psychologists and nursing care; it was through their support that I gradually calmed down”.

The accident significantly transformed Cheong’s life. He was unwilling to engage with the outside world: whenever he went out, he would cover the lower part of his body with a big towel. He said that his friends all disappeared after the accident, and even his wife left him, “My little sister resigned from her job so that she could focus on taking care of me. Her act made me understand the power of family and the need to become stronger. My sister has now become my spiritual pillar”. With the encouragement of his sister Sio Lin, Cheong joined the family of the Macao-China Paralympic Committee, writing a new chapter for himself as a disabled ping-pong athlete. Not only has he strengthened his body through sport but also made friends, enabling him to re-integrate into society.

Putting Oneself in Others’ Shoes to Experience in Person

Cheong fully understands the desperation involved when a healthy and able person suddenly becomes disabled, especially when this creates big changes to both daily life and the spirit. He hopes to share his personal experience with other disabled individuals in order to help them better integrate into society, “The disabled often feel despised but their spirit can be improved if they participate more often in activities. In the initial period following being discharged from hospital, one might easily and often go into wild flights of fancy about all sorts of things and blame oneself. However, the more one thinks in such negative way, the more depressed the spirit. On seeing that teenagers occasionally attempt suicide due to learning or love problems, Cheong reminds everyone, “Life is short, and we should cherish it”.

Understanding Life through Sports

Engaging in sports was originally an attempt to divert thoughts about his upsetting past experience. Cheong never thought that he would achieve anything, never mind representing Macao in competitions overseas. Cheong reflected, “Ping-Pong has given me a tremendously crucial encouragement. When I received my first training in Guangzhou, I realised that many people in the world suffering much worse than me. This realisation has also transformed much of my way of thinking”.

The Value of Familial Love

Both Cheong Lam San’s legs had to be cut off due to an accident, and it took him a great deal of time to emerge from this shadow. The significant contribution his sister Sio Lin made cannot be ignored: she resigned from her job so that she could take care of her brother, standing by him against social vindictiveness so that he could find his way out of the travails of his life. Sio Lin frankly said that the disabled badly need support from their families and hoped that they can all create lives for themselves.

Sister’s Encouragement to Step out from the ‘Dark World’

Cheong stayed in hospital for nearly a year. Sio Lin revealed that she was so profoundly stunned when trying to arrange a haircut for her brother, “Initially, the hairdresser refused. It took a long time to persuade him before he finally agreed to cut my brother’s hair. I was heartbroken”. Sio Lin resigned from her job in order to care for her brother, arranging all his needs for everyday life. This sudden loss of financial income was fortunately supplemented by her husband, who lifted all worries from her. Yet, in the process of accepting her brother’s sudden transformation, she was confronted with much psychological pressure, “I had received counselling, and sometimes talked to social workers to seek comfort”. Seeing that her brother was in very low spirits, she constantly encouraged him to step out from his ‘dark world’ by accompanying him to participate in activities organised by the Macao-China Paralympic Committee in the hope that he would find a way out. She was very much comforted when she saw that her brother has finally found himself in ping-pong - his goal in life.

Learning to be Self-Reliant

Antonio Fernandes, the President of the Macao-China Paralympic Committee & Macao - China Recreation and Sports Association for the Disabled, said, “In merely two short years, Cheong transformed himself from a beginner in ping-pong, gradually overcoming his demons and actively engaging himself to practise to become an athlete who now participates in competitions outside Macao. The hard work involved in this is overwhelming. I hope other disabled individuals will mirror this”. Fernandes continued, “Parents must positively treat their disabled children, employing different methods to assist them integrate into society. It is inevitable that parents will get old one day, so children must themselves learn to be self-reliant”.