Michael Louey is a table tennis champion. He is competing in the seventh Asia Pacific Deaf games that started on the weekend and will run until June in Seoul, South Korea. He has been successful playing table tennis in hearing and Deaf competitions, and has won several trophies and awards as a result of his years of hard work and training at the sport.
I met Michael earlier this year and was greatly encouraged by his tenacity and love for table tennis.
Asia Pacific Deaf Games
The Asia Pacific Deaf Games aim to promote international appreciation and respect towards Deaf sports, and to achieve Deaf unity in the Asia Pacific region among participating countries. The games are normally held every four years. This year in Seoul 2500 Deaf athletes from 30 different countries will compete.
Michael Louey was born in Portland, Victoria. He lived in Melbourne most of his life before moving to Canberra in 2007 to work in the government sector.
As a student, Michael went to a mainstream school with a hearing unit. Being Deaf, he faced challenges in communicating and accessing language in his schooling. However, he found his niche in the sports arena which greatly boosted his confidence. As a child, Michael loved various sports including Aussie Rules football, soccer, badminton and basketball. Of all the sports he played, he enjoyed football the most.
Michael started playing table tennis at the age of 15 at school. In 1991 he first joined a hearing club at the Croydon & District Table Tennis Association. He developed his skills in table tennis by watching top players playing in
A grade competitions and watching videos on the sport. Even today, Michael has only had a few coaching lessons.
Michael chose table tennis as his main sport because he thought it was fun, exciting and a challenging game that kept him fit. Table tennis is also a game he feels he can continue playing for as long as he wants. He claims table tennis can become a life-long sport and is proud to specialise in it.
Since 1991 Michael has been competing in both hearing and Deaf competitions. He has played at local, state, national and international tournaments.
Michael has achieved numerous championships. In 2009 at the ACT championships he won the men's open singles and doubles and became the ACT champion. He was ranked in the top five for the men's singles in the Asia Pacific Deaf Games in 1996. At the Australian Deaf Games held in January this year, Michael won three gold medals in the men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles events.
Michael practises table tennis twice a week with
A grade players in Canberra. He says
practice makes perfect. He does stretching exercises everyday and his exercise routine includes walking and cycling. To prepare himself for the games in Seoul, he worked on improving his table tennis skills.
Participating in various international competitions over the years, Michael says he's impressed by the level of professionalism displayed by table tennis players. He says
It has been fabulous meeting Deaf sportsmen worldwide and I have learnt a lot about how other teams work and train.
He's very excited about Seoul and looks forward to being a spectator at the other sports.
To young Deaf athletes
Michael has a note of encouragement for aspiring Deaf athletes out there in the Deaf community.
I would encourage many young Deaf athletes to join table tennis or participate in a sport. Deaf sports players can make a positive impact on future Deaf athletes by being good role models. Representing Australia is a dream come true.