August 4, 2023
SINGAPORE – Turning 76, for many, means enjoying retirement and possibly starting new hobbies. For Mahendran Pasupathy, he is beginning a new chapter in his sporting journey.
He is headed to the Oct 22-28 Asian Para Games (APG) in Hangzhou, China, where Singapore’s 33-strong athlete contingent would compete across nine sports – archery, athletics, badminton, boccia, lawn bowls, powerlifting, shooting, swimming and table tennis.
Five-time Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu and fellow swimmer Sophie Soon, who won three titles at June’s Asean Para Games in Cambodia, are part of the team bound for China.
Mahendran, who is visually impaired, will compete in lawn bowling. He is one of 17 athletes who are making their debut.
“I am incredibly honoured and excited to be selected to represent our country,” he said. “As the oldest athlete in the group and someone who took up the sport only in my 70s, it fills me with a sense of pride… to have come this far.”
The sport had given him a new-found purpose, he added.
“Discovering para lawn bowling later in life has been a transformative journey for me. It has shown me that no matter the age or the circumstances, it is never too late to pursue a passion and excel in it,” he said.
At the last APG in Jakarta in 2018, the Republic’s cohort of 44 athletes across 10 sports won three golds, two silvers and five bronzes.
Mahendran’s targets are more modest.
He said: “Winning a medal would be a remarkable achievement but, more importantly, I want to demonstrate the dedication and determination that para athletes possess.
“I hold the belief that age is no barrier to success and I hope that my presence at the Games serves as an inspiration to others to embrace new challenges and make the most of every moment.”
At the other end of the age spectrum is 17-year-old Aloysius Gan who won gold in the BC3 pairs and male category at the World Boccia Youth Championships in Portugal in July.
Aloysius said: “Although I’m the youngest in the contingent and there are many stronger players, I will do my best to make Singapore proud.”