SINGAPORE - In her maiden World Archery Para Championship outing in the Netherlands, Nur Syahidah Alim was up against reigning Paralympic champion Jessica Stretton, who had just forced their gold medal match into a shoot-off with her very last shot.
But Syahidah told herself to "breathe in confidence, breathe out anxiety" before each shot, and held her nerve to edge out the 19-year-old Briton in the women's individual compound final on Saturday (June 8), clinching her first world title and Singapore's first medal at the event.
Both women shot nines in the shoot-off, but the gold was awarded to the 33-year-old Syahidah as her arrow landed nearer to the target.
Tatiana Andrievskaia of Russia took bronze.
A relieved Syahidah told The Straits Times after receiving her medal: "I'm feeling relieved that it's over ... it really was an exciting match.
"What was running through my mind was (the reminder) to focus on my process and to be patient with my shots, and that really helped."
The score was close from the beginning of the final, which was held in the Dutch city Den Bosch.
Syahidah had been ahead by a point until she shot a nine in her last shot of the fourth end, which levelled the score to 141-141 heading into the final end.
But the Singaporean, who grimaced after that shot, said she did not panic.
"Archery is anybody's game, so the only thing I can do is do my best out there and just focus on what I need to do, which is my routine and (remembering) my cue words," she added.
A world title is not the only thing Syahidah will depart the Netherlands with - she has also secured Singapore a place at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. ST understands she will be nominated to the Singapore National Paralympic Council for the para-archery slot in Tokyo.
Singapore will also be represented in cycling at the Paralympic Games. TheRepublic secured a slot in the sport at the Games for the first time after its cyclists helped Singapore rank fifth in Asia at the end of the 2018 season. The top six nations in Asia are awarded a place.
Syahidah, who reached the quarter-final at the 2016 Paralympics, is aiming to go further next year. "I didn't expect to go all the way to the gold medal match at the world championships, my aim was to qualify for Tokyo and I've done that," she said, adding that she intends to further hone her mental toughness and technique once she returns home.
"The next thing after this is to get back to Singapore and start preparing for the Paralympics ... I'm aiming for a podium finish."
Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.