Paralympics: Nurulasyiqah Taha and Toh Sze Ning make their mark in Rio

Team Singapore's boccia players Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha (left) and Toh Sze Ning will compete with Greece for the bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Team Singapore's boccia players Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha (left) and Toh Sze Ning will compete with Greece for the bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.PHOTOS: JAMIE KOH, SPORT SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Team Singapore's boccia players Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha, 31, and Toh Sze Ning, 23, are on the verge of winning the country's first-ever Paralympic medal in the sport, should they beat their Greece rivals in their bronze medal match.

The Singaporean pair, who are ranked seventh in the world, have already made waves in Rio by scoring a pair of upsets over world No. 3 Portugal (5-1) and world No. 2 Greece (3-2) in the preliminary rounds.

1. They compete in the sport's BC3 class.

It is for players who have significantly limited movement in all four limbs.

Nurul, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, and Toh, who has cerebral palsy, are both wheelchair-bound. As they are unable to throw the leather ball onto the court, the players are aided by an assistant and they have to use a custom-made ramp.

 

2. Both of them were South-east Asia champions in 2014.

Nurul and Toh won the BC3 pairs event at the 2014 Asean Para Games (APG) in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, with Nurul also clinching a gold in the individual event.

But they failed to retain their crown at last December's APG held on home soil. They had to settle for a silver medal in the pairs category, while Toh took the silver medal in the individual event.

Singapore are ranked eighth in the BC3 pair world rankings. Individually, Nurulasyiqah is ranked 21st, while Toh is 33rd.

3. Rio 2016 is Nurul's second Paralympics and Toh's first.

Nurul started playing the sport in 2004 while studying in the Singapore Management University. The tax auditor who has a double major degree and accountancy and law became the Republic's first-ever Boccia Paralympian at the London 2012 Games, where she finished seventh out of 24 competitors in the BC3 individual event.

Toh, who picked up the sport in 2007, has already chalked up a lot of experience on the world stage, including at the Boccia World Open in Portugal and the World Individual Championships in Beijing earlier this year.

4. Nurul is learning Korean for the sake of the sport.

She has picked up Korean so that she can communicate with her South Korean opponents, many of whom are reigning Paralympic and world champions.