World champion. Two simple words that carry an extraordinary amount of significance to athletes. Singapore’s Nur Syahidah Alim earned the accolade after besting an elite field at the 2019 World Archery Para Championships that happened in June this year.
The 33-year-old Syahidah was resplendent throughout the competition and she displayed nerves of steel en route to winning the gold medal. After she was given a bye (advancement) into the second round, she blitzed her way to the semi-finals where she was up against Russia’s Tatiana Andrievskaia, a multiple-time continental champion. The competition was intense as both archers ended the match tied at 147 (out of a possible 150), but Syahidah edged ahead after the shootout.
It was a similar story in the following round. In the finals, she was shooting against British Paralympic gold medallist and defending champion, Jessica Stretton. Naturally the odds were against Syahidah, but, to use parlance from American football, anything can happen on any given Sunday – hail ma
After the match ended at 141 points apiece, the Singaporean shot first in the tiebreak and scored a nine. Stretton did the same but her arrow was further away from the bulls-eye and with that, Syahidah won the World Championships. It was Singapore’s first ever win at the competition.
“I feel very happy and proud to win the world championship title for Singapore,” she said. “I also hope that this win will motivate our archers to strive for excellence in achieving their highest standards, despite the challenges. I gave my very best during the competition.”
When asked about the challenges, she explained that the lack of archery training facilities in Singapore put her at a slight disadvantage compared to her competitors from other countries. However, her work rate and teammates more than made up for it.
“My coach, (Pang) Qing Liang and I worked closely together on the training plan in preparation for the World Para Archery Championships. The SSI (Singapore Sports Institute) have also provided support in enhancing my mental and physical strength through intense gym regimes, sport psychology sessions and nutrition.”
She added: “I felt that our hard work and dedication had finally paid off. The win comes as a surprise for me, as my main aim for the Championship was to secure a Paralympic slot for Singapore for Tokyo 2020.”
Without a doubt, she has punched her ticket to Japan next year.
Syahidah has come a very long way since she was introduced to the sport when she was 18 years old at an event organised by the Singapore Disability Sports Council.
“I like the feeling of hitting the centre,” she explained. “It was only in 2015 when she decided to pursue the sport more seriously.
“After I graduated from university, I was in a dilemma on whether I should focus on my career or continue with archery. My mom casually gave me an idea to try out for the national team – which I did, with no expectations.”
Her decision was vindicated after she won the gold medal at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games.
“Four years on, I am blessed and honoured to be representing Singapore for the World Championships and major games like the Rio Paralympics in 2016, ASEAN Para Games in 2017 and Asian Para Games in 2018.”
Her mother remained her source of inspiration in her archery career.
“She was the one that encouraged me to pursue my sporting aspirations. She is also the first person to be very honest with her opinions, and act as a wake-up call especially when I am experiencing a big slump. My life in sport will be meaningless without her blessings and words of wisdom.”
Naturally, her next target would be the Tokyo 2020 Games. Now, imbued a champion’s mentality, you wouldn’t count her out for another extraordinary sporting accolade – Paralympic gold medallist.Leave a comment