Theresa Goh, swimming in her ninth straight Asean Para Games, is penning a daily column for The Straits Times, sharing nuggets and personal anecdotes about some of her team-mates in the Singapore contingent. Today, she writes about 32-year-old archer Nur Syahidah Alim.
Beneath Syahidah's relaxed and easy-going persona, I can identify a certain focus that I find rather intriguing.
Perhaps that helps to explain how, despite starting to take para-archery more seriously only from March 2014, she has managed to not just do well, but also get to the pinnacle by competing at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro last year.
She said archery comes naturally to her and she enjoys it immensely. I can identify with that feeling, since it's how I feel about swimming.
Many would also know that even though she has cerebral palsy, Syahidah more than holds her own in able-bodied competitions.
In fact, she has trained with able-bodied athletes and was a part of the silver-winning team in the women's 50m compound at the SEA Open Archery Championships in Myanmar early this year.
Syahidah has the unique potential to cross over from para-sports to also compete in able-bodied events. While we've seen numerous examples across the world in sports such as swimming, table tennis and even archery itself, it's something that we've never had in Singapore.
In fact, Syahidah has trained with able-bodied athletes and was a part of the silver-winning team in the women's 50m compound at the SEA Open Archery Championships in Myanmar early this year.
She told me about how she is working hard on her balance, so that she can eliminate the chair she sits on to compete, and then to obtain approval to compete in able-bodied events.
It is hard enough to find athletes who are willing to take their involvement in sports to another level. It is something else for an athlete with a disability to possess that same level of commitment and bravery.
Syahidah, who is a Sports Excellence scholarship recipient and has taken no-pay leave since May to train full-time for the next two years, has proved she is committed to her dream of making the podium at the Paralympics.
It'll be very interesting to see her progress and watch how far she goes in this endeavour, because it would truly be significant for disability sports in Singapore.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Fully committed to loftier targets'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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