SO WA WAI - AN ORDINARY LIFE WITH AN ORDINARY HEART, 2005 AWARDEE OF JCI TEN OUTSTANDING YOUNG PER
October 14, 2017
So Wa Wai, a familiar name for many Hong Kong people, is now a retired athlete after a 21-year career in running. Nicknamed “magic kid”, So has participated in 5 Paralympics and garnered 12 Paralympic medals, including six gold, three silver and three bronze.
So has always had passion for running regardless he has cerebral palsy. Even his hearing and the balance of his limbs are affected by jaundice, but So never sees any obstacles to stop him from running. His parents have always supported him for what he likes to do. At the age of 10, his enthusiasm for running was noticed by Coach Poon Kin Lui, who has become his life time friend and employer. Coach Poon started from the basics and focused on the basics. “From repeating the basic techniques, I have found myself and learned where to improve my skills in running.” So recalls.
Teamwork is the key to success for relay. Each teammate has his own personalities and characters, So learned how to communicate, work, and cope with people. As a new member in the team, mostly So was on his own, later on he realized relay is about teamwork. So could not do some of the drills and the teammates did not communicate much with him. Observing others, he discovered others’ needs and provided his support to them. So managed to resolve the conflicts between teammates and lead them to work together.
Success comes at a price. So won his first Paralympic medal as part of the men's 4x100 m relay team at the 1996 games in Atlanta. Since then, he has won numerous medals in different events. So still holds the record for 200m race men's T36 classification. In the 21 years on the track life, he realized winning races is not the top priority, but determination and ‘do my best’ are the keys to success. So adds “success is not by luck, but it is all about how hard you have tried.”
Perseverance keeps So going. With the hearing and limbs issues, running is never easy for So. He thought of giving it up, however running is what he loves the most. He stayed in running for two decades. So faced the most pressure in the Beijing Olympic Games as it was a home game so he wanted to perform the best. He still set the world record for the 200m race.
So once said in other interview, "Nothing stops me from running except injuries." With unbearable back pain, So has retired from running since last year. So has found his new role in supporting running. He continues his passion as working for the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee and Sports Association for the Physically Disabled.
So encourages JCI members have to be positive and care about the society. “We have to keep a calm mind and healthy body by doing more exercise. Young people have to build perseverance.