Lee Duck Hee, the 143rd best tennis player in the world, and the 2nd highest ranked professional in the 18-and-under category, was diagnosed deaf when he was only 2 years old. Instead of whining for days and staying put, his parents bravely researched for a place where he can be properly educated. The main criteria for the choice was that he should become independent, live life normally as others and should remain integrated with the society. He was enrolled at both a special and a regular school to ensure the criteria.
Choosing a career path for Lee wasn’t as difficult as his parents had imagined. He was always inclined towards sports. He also made had a record at the National Sports Festival which made sports, an ideal career choice. Initially he focused on individual sports such as archery and golf, but it was tennis which attracted him the most. His parents, with utmost sincerity, committed themselves to building his career in tennis.
Several top players state that they rely on listening to the sound of the shot, as their initial information, and use it to determine the speed and the spin of the shot. They have also on some occasions, blamed inaudibility as the reason for losing a match. But, with his strong determination and mental toughness, Lee transformed what his opponents thought of as a weakness, into his strength. Today, he sees his disability as a gift, and says, “I never get distracted during matches, by the crowd, my opponents, anything. It means I can concentrate much more on my own game.” Despite lacking the auditory feedback, Lee uses his enhanced visual motor senses and stimuli to perform his best. One of his former opponents, Christopher Runghat expressed awe at his anticipation and stated, “He always seems to know where I am going to hit the ball. I don’t think he’s guessing; it’s more like he’s reading my mind.”
LEE Duck Hee aims at achieving the No. 1 rank in tennis and believes that his hearing impairment will never hold him back. Keeping in mind his athletic talent, belief, and the support group around him, it indeed seems that the Rank 1 will arrive very soon.
Manya Gumashta | TOC
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