Singapore, 13 March 2018 -
Gritty table tennis player Jason Chee, who won a gold medal in the men's singles Class 2 event at last year's Asean Para Games just four months after losing his right eye to cancer, was named The Straits Times' Athlete of the Year 2017 on Tuesday (March 13).
The 35-year-old, who had also lost both legs, his left arm and three fingers on his right hand in a naval accident in 2012, received his award from Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in a ceremony at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel.
Chee was nominated alongside Muhamad Ridhwan (boxing), Cheyenne Goh (winter sports), Shayna Ng (bowling) and last year's winner Joseph Schooling for the prestigious annual award, which is the only honour that recognises both able-bodied and disabled athletes.
In his speech, Chee said: "I want to congratulate every one (of the nominees) because being an athlete is not an easy task. To my fellow athletes, it has been a great year and good luck to your future endeavours.
"Play for yourself, play for your team-mates, play for the people who fell in love with the game and make sure to cherish every season, every game and every training. It will be over a lot sooner than you will realise."
This year also saw the introduction of a new accolade - the ST Young Athlete of the Year award for student-athletes who have stood out in the National School Games and other school championships. It was won by former Meridian Junior College (MJC) footballer Justin Hui.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who plays for S-League club Hougang United, was recognised for his outstanding performance in the schools championships, particularly the National School Games.
During last year's Schools National A Division boys' football championship, he skippered the MJC team and scored a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Victoria Junior College in the final.
Justin was nominated along with judoka Wang Jinghan of Nanyang Girls' High, gymnast Lincoln Forest Liqht Man of the Singapore Sports School and squash player Kan Weng Yean of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).
This is the 10th edition of ST Athlete of the Year, which was started in 2008 with swimmer Tao Li the inaugural winner.
Other past winners include swimmer Quah Ting Wen (2009), the national women's table tennis team (2010), badminton player Fu Mingtian (2011), para equestrienne Laurentia Tan (2012), footballer Safuwan Baharudin (2013), swimmer Joseph Schooling (2014, 2016) and para swimmer Yip Pin Xiu (2015).
ST sports editor Lee Yulin, who headed a nine-member judging panel for the 2017 award, said: "This was a strong cohort of nominees but when one considers the power of inspiration, which is a key element of this award, then that makes Jason the obvious choice.
"His stirring tale of meeting setback after setback with fortitude and a never-say-die attitude, is a fine example to all Singaporeans, not just athletes and not just the disabled. That is why we at ST believe he deserves to be named the ST Athlete of the Year.
"As for Justin, he has risked much and sacrificed much as he pursues his passion for football. This, together with his talent and focus, make him a role model for youth athletes and that is why he has been selected as the inaugural Young Athlete of the Year."
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The Straits Times, the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings, is the most-read newspaper in Singapore and is followed widely in the region for its comprehensive coverage of local, regional and world news, provided by its correspondents in 20 bureaus in major cities worldwide.
Launched on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times underwent a major redesign across all platforms in July 2015, when it celebrated its 170th anniversary. This revamp is part of its continuing efforts to refresh its products, maintain quality and stay relevant to the changing needs of its readers. Its integrated newsroom operates round-the-clock, providing readers with news as it happens on all platforms, from its website at www.straitstimes.com, Apple and Android apps to social media.
The Straits Times is a member of two media networks - the Asia News Network and the Impact Journalism Day alliance of newspapers - and it has won multiple international media awards, including from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (Panpa), Society of News Design and Wan-Ifra. In 2017, it was conferred the silver award for best news mobile service and the bronze award for best use of online video by the World Association of Newspaper at the Digital Media Asia Awards.