Cheah Liek Hou is a man on fire. With six world championships under his belt and having just won a gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in badminton, he is gunning for more glory.
His achievement in Japan has stoked the passion in him to do well in more tournaments en route to qualifying for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.
But the 33-year-old was still grounded.
“I’m not saying that I’ll be able to defend my gold medal. I would like to qualify for the next Paralympics,” said Cheah.
“I’m motivated. I’m in good shape and I feel good. I’m eager to play in more tournaments,” he added.
Perhaps Cheah was managing expectations, and being cautious. Age may not be on his side in France. He would be 36 by then. But if he does not pick up any serious injuries along the way, his route to Paris looks bright.
While that remains the ultimate goal, Cheah has his beloved mother, Jap Joe Tjin, for support. The 71-year-old has been by her son’s side every step of the way.
“No money or medal can repay what my mother has done for me. I can never thank her enough,” said Cheah.
“She is proud … very proud and happy after I won the (Paralympics) gold medal.”
While the historic feat has started to sink in, and Cheah is ready to move forward, the Kuala Lumpur-born hoped to see more children get involved in sports.
Cheah has certainly blossomed into a role model, not only among the special community, but among Malaysians in general. Despite suffering from Erb’s palsy – which causes his right hand to have less strength and stability – he defied all odds and inked his name in the history books after defeating Indonesian Dheva Anrimusthi 21-17, 21-15 in the SU5 men’s singles final at the Yoyogi National Stadium on Sept 4.
As such, he believes every child is capable of achieving great things.
“It’s best for children to be active. I hope to see more parents encourage their children to take up sports.
“It’s way better than just staying at home. Let your child play a sport that he or she is interested in. They could be a great talent one day… you never know.
“More importantly, it’s about teaching our children to lead a healthy lifestyle. Even if they don’t make it to the big stage, they will lead a healthy life,” he added.