These days, Reginald Fong is upbeat and chatty. It’s hard to imagine that he used to be shy and withdrawn, rarely communicating with others.
He also had severe asthma when he was young, so his father decided to try boosting Reginald’s fitness and stamina through swimming. It took awhile, but gradually, his health and strength improved.
But still, Reginald seldom communicated with other people; his family said he always seemed to live in his own world. Eventually, Reginald was assessed as autistic and with intellectual disability. In Hong Kong culture at that time, there was enormous stigma. The diagnoses were really hard for Reginald’s parents to accept.
After his family adjusted and rallied, they worked to expose Reginald to different types of activities to find his interests; however, Reginald was not interested in these activities. He seemed to wish to stay withdrawn into his own private world.
Finally, with the support of family and friends, he tried something new—a sport that brought a big change: golf. Reginald loved this new sport and became interested in learning more, as well as meeting new people who loved golf as much as he did. Through participating in Special Olympics golf training, he has opened his world to accept others into his life. Reginald has met many coaches and teammates, with whom he had this great sport and interest in common. Soon, his attitude changed—he became cheerful and positive. His family was thrilled as he also became inspired to start communicating with others.
He soon became ready to compete in major events, including the Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters in Macau and the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. For the Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters, Reginald faced heavy rain on competition day. He did not give up and strived to play his best. He earned an individual award in that competition. This experience has helped Reginald prepare to overcome other obstacles in his daily life.
At the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, Reginald participated in a Level 4 event and he had to communicate with his teammates, coaches, caddie etc. without the company of his family members. It was a milestone for him, another exciting step toward independence.
These days, Reginald also participates in Special Olympics Athlete Leadership, including athlete leadership trainings to improve his speaking and communication skills. He was also selected as one of the torch runners in 2019 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Hong Kong.
Now he’s on the Hong Kong team competing at the 2023 World Games in Berlin. Reginald will be ready to show his courage in overcoming challenges, just like the Special Olympics athlete oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”