2015 ASEAN PARA GAMES: DAY 5

Aishah fired up for future despite finishing 4th

Although Aishah Samad fell short of the 628-point minimum qualification score in order to gain a wildcard spot for next year's Paralympics, she says that she is certain she will continue to shoot.
Although Aishah Samad fell short of the 628-point minimum qualification score in order to gain a wildcard spot for next year's Paralympics, she says that she is certain she will continue to shoot. ST PHOTO: MATTHEW MOHAN

She may be the poster girl for shooting at this Asean Para Games (APG) but Singapore's Aishah Samad has to battle misconceptions about her performance levels.

The 43-year-old was an able-bodied shooter once, and even won a team bronze medal at the 2003 SEA Games in Hanoi, before a bacterial infection caused her to lose all her limbs.

Still she continued shooting but her fiance Abd Aziz Jantan, 48, revealed that she has had to endure doubts from those who cannot understand the difficulties of re-learning her sport as a para-athlete.

Said Aziz, who met Aishah early last year: "The theory is still there but, in practice, it is totally different. She is now starting from scratch based on that theory she used to have."

While Aishah has learnt to just smile at those who still think that winning an APG medal will be a stroll in the park for her, yesterday showed just how tough the competition is in her R5 10m air rifle mixed prone event.

In fact, out of all the seven athletes, Aishah was the only one shooting using her stump rather than her fingers, said her fiance.

Still, she went shot for shot in the final in the first competition stage before eventually finishing fourth (166.9). Thailand stalwarts Chatchai Senachan and Tanong Channam, a silver medallist in the same event at last year's Asian Para Games, took gold and silver respectively. Indonesia's Bolo Triyanto clinched the bronze.

Although her qualification score of 624.9 points was enough for her to advance to the final, Aishah was disappointed with her initial showing. It was just short of the 628-point minimum qualification score (MQS) that would have allowed her to gain a wildcard spot for next year's Paralympics.

Aishah said: "There was too much focus on going for the goal.

"As a result, I lost my own concentration." However, she bounced back after her coach helped her see the larger picture.

"He told me that it is my responsibility to perform in the final. I am a person who understands responsibility and I kept to my word.

"I had to focus on fighting on and I kept on fighting right till the last."

When asked about her APG experience compared to her past SEA Games exploits, the shooter is effusive in her praise of the APG.

She said: "We get full attention from public, a lot volunteers and MPs. Back then, it was very mellowed down."

Although the future is uncertain for Aishah as she is unsure if she will be able to participate in other tournaments to clock an MQS before the Paralympics, she is certain she will continue to shoot.

"There are always ups and downs but I'm still looking forward."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2015, with the headline 'Aishah fired up for future despite finishing 4th'. Print Edition | Subscribe