PETALING JAYA: Twelve years ago, S. Suresh went through the darkest moment of his life.
What was supposed to be a school holiday outing for the Form One student turned into a nightmare when he lost his left leg in a road mishap.
Suresh was following his father M. Selvathamby, a lorry driver, to Johor to make a delivery when the latter veered onto the divider and crashed into a parked steamroller at the North-South Expressway near Slim River in Perak.
A month after losing his leg, his younger sister Karthiyani died, also in a road accident.
The 12-year-old girl was about to hop onto the school bus when she was knocked down by a motorcycle.
But these heartbreaking incidents failed to destroy him emotionally.
The 25-year-old persevered and rose from the tough times to bring glory to the country and his family by becoming a world champion on Sunday.
Suresh stunned 2015 world champion Eric Bennett 7-3 in the recurve open final to complete his fairy-tale run at the World Archery Para Championships in Hertogen-bosch, Holland.
Ranked only 35th in the world and featuring in his first world meet, Suresh was not given much of a chance.
But the former quality control inspector never doubted his capability.
“Prior to heading to Holland, I dreamt of conquering the world,” said Suresh.
“I knew I could beat anyone because I have 99% confidence in myself. The other 1% is how I handle myself during competition.
“Words can’t describe how I felt when I won. I’m so happy to make Malaysia and my family proud.
“Our family have been through a lot. I still remember how devastated my mother (C. Dewani) was when we lost my beautiful sister.
“My father also felt guilty about me losing my leg.
“The accident happened because he was trying to pick up the phone after dropping it. But I never blamed him at all.
“So, I hope this gold medal will bring a smile to everyone.”
Suresh took up the sport at the age of 18 when a friend introduced him to M. Puvaneswaran, a Kedah state coach in para archery.
“It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with archery. My first breakthrough was winning a silver medal at the 2012 Para Sukma Games in Pahang.
“In 2014, I was drafted into the national team and trained under Marzuki Zakaria.
“He taught me everything and my performance flourished under him.”
For his efforts at the World Championships, Suresh will be rewarded with RM80,000 under the National Sports Council scheme.
Asked how he plans to spend the money, he said: “I want to buy a house for my parents.
“All this while, we’ve been renting. I really hope I can give them their own home.”