Paralympics reflections: Archery's Syahidah Alim steady despite broken stool

Singapore's Nur Syahidah Alim shooting during the individual compound event in Rio. The para-archer shrugged off the loss of her shooting stool to reach the quarter-finals.
Singapore's Nur Syahidah Alim shooting during the individual compound event in Rio. The para-archer shrugged off the loss of her shooting stool to reach the quarter-finals.PHOTO: SPORT SINGAPORE

She discovered just moments before her match that the high stool she rests on to shoot had given way but Singaporean para-archer Nur Syahidah Alim remained stoic.

It was too late to retrieve a spare stool. So Syahidah, who shoots from a sitting position, smiled, composed herself and tightened her leg muscles.

That her legs were already weakened due to cerebral palsy made that adjustment more difficult for her to make.

Yet the world No. 17 overcame the mishap to beat her higher-ranked opponent, world No. 13 Canadian Karen van Nest 140-135 in the round of 16 of the individual compound competition in Rio.

The 31-year-old, Singapore's first representative in archery at the Paralympics, revealed the hiccup during yesterday's celebrations as the main contingent returned from Rio: "The stool had to give way at the 'right' time, seconds before the match started. It was a challenge then to stabilise myself. I had to apply pressure on my legs to balance, which caused my legs to spasm.

"I had just an hour after that match to get ready for the quarter-final. So I was quickly attended to by our SSI (Singapore Sports Institute) team, who helped to reduce the tension in my muscles.

"This (incident) was the most memorable one for me."

Even though the debutante eventually lost to South Korean bronze medallist Kim Mi Soon 135-137 in the quarter-final contest, she felt proud of her No. 7 rank among the 17 competitors in the final standings.

More importantly, Syahidah has learnt to remain positive despite the odds stacked against her.

The double gold medallist at last year's Asean Para Games said: "I felt that this Paralympics was a good learning experience for me. I pushed hard and strong and managed to beat the odds.

"My coach (Rachel Sng) told me to carry on and to just smile all the way."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Syahidah steady despite broken stool'. Print Edition | Subscribe