Toh Sze Ning bagged Singapore's first boccia medal at the Asean Para Games yesterday, lifting the mood in the hosts' camp following the early exit of world No. 8 and defending champion Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha in the preliminary rounds a day earlier.
She settled for silver in the mixed individual BC3 category after losing 2- 3 to Thai Paralympian Tanimpat Visaratanunta at the OCBC Arena.
The latter had trailed 0-2 but rallied to score three points in the final two ends to emerge victorious in a match watched by Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
Toh, 22, who finished fourth in the category at last year's APG, said: "I played as well as I could but my opponent performed a little bit better than I did. But I'm happy to win the silver as it exceeded my expectation, which was a bronze.
"I would like to thank my sports assistant and my coach... I feel proud that there are so many people supporting me during the final and throughout the matches."
Toh, who has cerebral palsy and relies on muscle relaxants to prevent muscular spasms, started playing boccia in 2007. She initially found it difficult to grasp its strategic component. But she has improved tremendously, according to team manager Kenneth Soh.
"It's amazing to see how much Sze Ning has grown and played so well in this competition. It was an excellent performance from her to almost win against a Paralympian."
Newly crowned champion Tanimpat also has high praise for Toh and her team: " The Singapore players are very good. I didn't think I was going to win during the match but luck was on my side."
The 34-year-old said she will be giving the gold medal to her father, who is also her boccia assistant, as a belated present for Father's Day, which took place on Saturday in their country, also the day of the King's birthday.
Thailand swept all four golds in the individual events.