SINGAPORE — She may be a Special Olympics double-gold medallist, but up until Tuesday (Sept 19), para swimmer Danielle Moi had never stood at the top of the podium at the Asean Para Games (APG).
Her debut at the APG on home soil two years ago did not reap any medals, and after finishing second in the women’s 100m S14 freestyle – S14 is for athletes with intellectual impairment – on Monday, the 17-year-old was even more motivated to win her first gold in Kuala Lumpur.
The teenager’s grit and determination was finally rewarded on Tuesday, as she clocked 2min 29.89sec in the 200m S14 freestyle at Bukit Jalil’s National Aquatic Centre to claim top spot ahead of Claire Sunega Calizo of the Philippines (2:44.81) and teammate Chew Zi Ling (2:53.00).
“(The silver on Monday) motivated me to be more prepared mentally and physically for the race today,” said Danielle, who studies at Metta School, a special education school for students with mild intellectual disability and/or mild autism.
“I really feel very happy, I finally won my first gold at the Asean Para Games… I’m really happy that I’ve made Singapore proud!”
Danielle’s gold was the second title for Team Singapore’s 12-strong swimming contingent in Kuala Lumpur, after Toh Wei Soong’s victory in the men’s S7 100m freestyle on Monday.
The 17-year-old, who won gold in the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle at the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles, will get another shot at winning gold on Thursday, when she returns to the pool for the 50m freestyle.
The young swimmer has also set her sights beyond the regional Games, as she is aiming for success at the World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City next month. Danielle is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her idol, three-time Paralympic gold-medallist Yip Pin Xiu, who won a gold and two silver medals at the world championships in 2010 and 2013.
“I hope to earn more medals and make Singapore proud,” she said.
“Theresa Goh and Pin Xiu are always my idols and I’m now working hard to be like them one day.”