17 February 2019
William So Wa-wai waves the Hong Kong flag after winning the 200-meter event at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. Photo: Xinhua
William So Wa-wai waves the Hong Kong flag after winning the 200-meter event at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. Photo: Xinhua

Paralympian star So Wa-wai announces retirement

Hong Kong’s Paralympian runner William So Wa-wai (蘇樺偉) has announced his retirement after 21 years on the tracks.

So, 34, said he was unwilling to end his athletic career but the severity of his long-term injuries forced him to make the decision, Metro Daily reported on Tuesday.

He will continue to work as an event assistant at the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled, but he will lose his subsidy from the Hong Kong Sports Institute after his retirement.

He said he is trying to enhance his computer and photography skills in a bid to find new sources of income.

So was born with jaundice which affected both his hearing and the balance of his limbs.

He said he has been suffering from a niggling waist pain for 12 years, and as a result, he sometimes could not even turn his body or walk naturally.

He had been taking painkillers after the Paralympic Games in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014, but he had not been making any breakthroughs in his athletic performances.

Meanwhile, So’s mother, Hon Siu-ching, was relieved and pleased by her son’s decision to step down, as she feared he would aggravate his injuries should he continue to compete at a high intensity level.

So said he would miss his coaches and team mates, but he is sure he is leaving with no regrets.

So competed in five Paralympic Games between 1996 and 2012, garnering 11 medals, including five gold, three silver and three bronze.

His most memorable win was the 200-meter event at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, in which he grabbed the gold.

So’s priority after retirement would be the healing of his waist injury.

His mother expressed hopes that the government would continue to help her son, considering his contributions.

Athletics coaches Poon Kin-lui and Au-yeung Ka-kue said So is a rare talent that one can only find in a hundred years.

“I remember he threw tantrums once and refused to train,” recalled Poon. “I asked him to go home, but he did not dare as he was afraid he would have to face his mother. So he only stood there and cried.”

Au-yeung said the most amazing thing about So is his form of running, which is almost the same as a fully capable athlete.

As a final salute to his glittering career, So will take part in a 10-kilometer race at the Hong Kong Marathon on Jan. 17 with his coach Poon.

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