SINGAPORE: Thirty-one-year-old Syahidah Alim is taking a shot at making history. She has cerebral palsy but the condition did not stop the para-archer from winning two gold medals at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games.
Now, she is setting her sights on becoming the first para-athlete to represent Singapore at this year's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be held in Kuala Lumpur in August, alongside able-bodied athletes.
Syahidah is on target to achieving this feat, having already met the qualifying criteria in her category across multiple competitions.
She told Channel NewsAsia that she was inspired to take up the challenge after making her debut at the Rio Paralympics. "From my Rio experience, I have trained and also shot alongside all the other para-archers,” said Syahidah.
“Based on the performance I had done in Rio, I truly believe that I can go even further than the Para Games, which is why I decided to try out for the SEA Games,” she added.
(Photo: Nadia Jansen Hassan)
Despite having cerebral palsy, Syahidah was able to beat five other national archers to top her category at the Singapore Archery Open in December 2016. Her results have earned her a spot on the SEA Games training squad for archery, made up of the athletes likely to represent Singapore at the biennial event.
"It's a great opportunity to train with the able-bodied national archers. They are the best in archery, and have been shooting for a long while. Shooting with them actually helps me to perform a lot better,” said Syahidah of her experience.
There are no rules stopping Syahidah from competing at the SEA Games, according to the Archery Association of Singapore. Even though she shoots from a chair while able-bodied athletes stand, the main requirement is that she remains within her allocated space.
Syahidah Alim with her coach and sports psychologist. (Photo: Nadia Jansen Hassan)
In order to be officially selected for the SEA Games, Syahidah’s next aim will be to maintain her results at upcoming competitions. The para-archer said she is looking forward to the challenge. "The opportunity for me to be representing Singapore for both the SEA Games and the ASEAN Para Games is an amazing feeling,” she said. “And being the first to do so is an honour.”
“It also made me realise that there is a possibility for able-bodied sports and para-sports to integrate, and I hope to see more of such integration happening in Singapore,” added Syahidah.