SINGAPORE – When he was younger, Vincent Chua was overweight as he loved to eat and hated exercising.

He found running only later in life, after he turned 55 and took up the sport to keep fit.

Now 70, the former marine engineer said: “I started a small running group in the office, but it died down and I continued myself.”

The group trained once a week but it was not enough for Chua, who developed a passion for running and now runs four times a week, clocking 30km in total.

He took part in his first Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) in 2012 and has not stopped since.

He even signed up as a pacer with Running Department, a community running group, shortly after his participation.

He said: “I found out about the marathon in the newspapers.

“One year, when I was driving in town, on the day of StanChart, I felt very high when I saw the crowd.

“The roads were closed, I thought to myself, maybe one day I should take part.”

Four years after his first marathon, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after feeling tremors in his left hand while driving.

The grandfather of two refused to let his condition stop him from doing the sport he loves, despite the possibility of severe injury.

He said: “The danger is, you can walk halfway and you freeze. Your legs just refuse to move and you won’t know it, so the tendency for fall is there.

“A lot of people said, you shouldn’t run, but that makes no change to me. As long as I can run, it hasn’t happened, why wait for it to happen. Just go ahead and do what you’d like to do.”

He has had multiple falls over the years while running and has ended up in the hospital accident & emergency department “a few times”.

Once, he tripped and fell face first onto the asphalt while trying to avoid a dog in his path. He could not break his fall in time and now bears a dent on his forehead.

After the incidents, his daughter made him wear an engraved metal plate with emergency contacts on his watch so that passersby can alert his family in case of another major fall.

Chua hopes that his story will encourage more people, especially those diagnosed with Parkinson’s, to take up running to prevent their condition from deteriorating.

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