Daniel Chan: Holding fast to dreams
24 Jan 2018
At university, Daniel Chan is a Physical Education and Recreation Management student whose appearance is no different from his peers. However, in the para-badminton arena, he ranks second in the world. Apart from a racket, what keeps him company is a specially designed wheelchair that enables him to accomplish his goals with full force.
No journey to success is perfectly smooth. Daniel developed a keen interest in badminton and joined the Tsuen Wan youth squad when he was a junior secondary student. After he graduated from secondary school, he was so dedicated to his work that he let his dream of getting into the Hong Kong Badminton Team slip away. However, he never left his racket idle, and occasionally he would team up with his friends to take part in competitions. Unfortunately, at the age of 22, a traffic accident deprived him of the ability to stand up on the badminton court.
Daniel had to undergo nearly 20 major surgeries and was hospitalised for nine months. This harsh blow in the prime of his life greatly affected Daniel who subsequently lost all faith in his future. "Resuming normal life after I was discharged from the hospital was the most difficult time in my life as I had to rely on a wheelchair. All things seemed strange to me, and I was worried about losing my job and my lover." Just when Daniel thought he could only dwell in an abyss for the rest of his life, a friend of his took him back to the badminton court, helping him recover the sense of security with which he was familiar. Picking up the racket again, though not yet able to do a jump smash like he used to, he regained self-confidence and a thirst for life through his participation in one competition after another.
"Over the years, badminton has been my 'friend'. After the accident, I even regarded it as a creed which got me back 'on my feet' again." As the first wheelchair badminton player in Hong Kong, Daniel doesn't have a predecessor to follow. However, with unrelenting effort and perseverance, in 2009 he finally got a chance to put on the Hong Kong Badminton Team's uniform. Since then, he has represented the city and made good progress in his performance in various world championship tournaments. He was elected Hong Kong Sports Star in 2015, and even became the first full-time para-badminton player in the city. Very often Daniel teases himself, "After going all the way round, my dream of becoming a professional athlete unexpectedly came true." That's why he often encourages young people to pursue their dreams with courage. He believes that as long as one dares to go forward anything can be achieved.
Daniel’s physical constraints did not weaken his determination to go forward. In 2016, he resolutely gave up a full-time job and enrolled in HKBU's BA in Physical Education and Recreation Management Programme through the University’s Elite Athletes Admission Scheme. Over the past few years, he has been busy alternating between studies and badminton practice while also looking after his family. In addition, he strenuously promotes parasport. "Sport is a city's soft power. Compared with foreign countries, sport is not that popular in Hong Kong. To a certain extent, sport in Hong Kong is profit-oriented. There is neither enough protection nor promising post-retirement prospects for local athletes." An example of a relatively lucky para-athlete in Hong Kong, Daniel would like to influence people's notion on parasport with his own achievements in the hope that para-athletes can get more support and recognition.
Daniel is often invited to deliver speeches at schools where he is able to inspire others. "When I fell down, a lot of people held me up. Today I'm happy that I have the ability to give back to society, so I take the initiative to care about others. This is my mission as well as my responsibility."