Paralympian Dr William Tan To Handcycle 500km in Four Days


Cycling 500km in four days is no mean feat – even for an able-bodied person.

But Dr William Tan, a medical doctor who contracted polio at the age of two and is paralysed from the waist down, will attempt to handcycle 500km through the English Channel Tunnel next month.

Given less than 12 months to live

Dr Tan was diagnosed with Stage Four leukaemia in 2009 and told then, that he had only less than 12 months to live.

But with the help of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, the doctor has since overcome the odds and continues to thrive today.

Five years later and still thriving, Dr Tan is grateful for the new lease of life, so he will be handcycling from London to Paris, in the space of four days – between 19 to 23 June.

NUS 85km resilience run 29 March 2014-dr-william-tan

Raising funds for needy patients and cancer research

With his handcycling feat, Dr Tan is raising funds for needy patients at the National University Hospital and cancer research at the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

Past Achievements

This is not the paralympian’s first inspirational feat.

Despite his disability, Dr Tan has spent his life conquering the odds in both academia and sports from a very young age.

An alumnus from renowned educational institutions such as the Raffles Institution, Harvard University and Oxford University, he has also completed seven marathons across seven continents in December 2007. Dr Tan became the fastest person in the world to do so, in a time of 26 days, 17 hours, 43 minutes and 52 seconds.

Earlier on, he also became the first person to complete the North Pole Marathon in a wheelchair – a feat he achieved in April 2007 in extreme conditions of -25 degrees C. His timing was 21 hours and 10 minutes.

Dr Tan completes the Boston Marathon.

Dr Tan completes the Boston Marathon.

Represented Singapore in national competitions

An Asian-Pacific Games Triple Gold Medallist, Dr Tan has also represented Singapore in national competitions, such as the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, the World Games and the Commonwealth Games.

Did not let cancer stop him

Even after contracting leukaemia, Dr Tan didn’t let it stop him in his athletic pursuits.

In 2010, after recovering from the cancer, he achieved his best personal timing in handcycling – at the Berlin Marathon. He also won a gold medal at the 10km event in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore that same year.

Involved in table tennis too

Today, besides handcycling, Dr Tan is also heavily involved in table tennis and has even competed at the national level too.

Said Dr Tan, “In 2011, I was selected to represent Singapore at the ASEAN Para games. In 2014 I represented Singapore again in the same games in Myanmar, and this time, I won a bronze medal.”

Most Daring Feat yet

But his 500km traverse from London to Paris will be his most daring feat yet – considering that he is not actually supposed to exert himself too much outdoors, ever since he had contracted cancer in 2009.

Said Dr Tan, “Being a cancer patient, I was advised not to go outdoors and be under the sun.”

We wish the doctor all the best in his handcycling feat next month.

Click here to support needy patients at NUH.

Click here to support cancer research at NCSS.

Click here to support athletes such as Dr William Tan, at the Singapore Disability Sports Council.

Other Blog Posts

The Sundown Marathon Challenge for the Visually Impaired

Jason Chee – Inspiring Others

Playing Table Tennis in a Wheelchair

Singapore Blade Runner Returns to Boston Marathon Bombings



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