After each training session, his hip grew increasingly more painful and, eventually, Chia Shing Kee had to visit the doctor.
He was stunned by the diagnosis.
At the time just 10, Shing Kee was a table tennis nut at Maris Stella High School(Primary), and he thought it was the end of the world when the doctor told him he required surgery and would never be able to play sports again.
Today, the 14-year-old is fully recovered and recently led Raffles Institution’s C boys table tennis team to a 3-2 win over their Singapore Sports School counterparts in the National Schools’ team final.
Speaking to The New Paper recently, Shing Kee, who was holding a bat, said: “This is my life and this is what I love. I feel that without table tennis, something is missing.
“I was so sad when the doctor told me I could never play competitively again, and not even train.
“But I couldn’t give up, and it’s made me appreciate table tennis even more.”
Recalling the time in 2010 when Shing Kee had to go under the knife, his dad, Stephen Chia, said: “He never told us that he felt sore after training.
“One day he couldn’t take the pain anymore so he told us something was wrong, but by the time we got to a doctor, it was too late and he had to undergo an operation.”
Shing Kee spent around six months recovering — a month in a wheelchair and the rest on crutches.
All the while he couldn’t wait to get back to table tennis.
Shing Kee defied medical orders and actually started attending training sessions while on crutches.
Chia, a student care facilitator, said: “When he told us he still wanted to train, my wife and I were worried, especially since he was still using crutches.
“But my wife and I would take turns to be at his training session to make sure he didn’t overdo anything.
“We really don’t know where he gets the passion from, because my wife and I aren’t the sporty type at all.”
While other students aspire to emulate their heroes and one day represent Singapore at the Olympics, Shing Kee, surprisingly, has other plans.
He said: “If I get a chance to represent Singapore in table tennis, I’ll take it, but I realistically don’t see that happening for me.
“It’s very hard to get into the national team and there are others who are so much better than me."
With his hip healed, Shing Kee’s once again playing table tennis.
Chia still holds out hope for his son, though.
He said: “It’s good that he wants to study more, but I’m still optimistic that he may one day change his mind and maybe try out for the national team because I know he’s good enough.
“I always tell him to do his best, and that his mother and I will always be around for support.”
Maybe, Shing Kee will develop a taste for international competition in December, when he represents his school at the Asean Schools Games in Manila.
He said: “Of course I want to try and do better in school, but I have no plans of stopping (table tennis). I want to keep playing and training as much as I can.”