APG2018: Silver for resilient Boccia trio as team effort shines through
13 October 2018
Every ball is a new opportunity and every new end is a new beginning.
That is the mantra for Boccia player Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha each time she picks up a leather ball to make her shot. And it was especially important for the 33-year-old after she had missed out on the semi-finals of the mixed individual BC3 competition by the narrowest of margins.
Team captain Nurulasyiqah Mohd Taha is proud of how her team never gave up. Photo: Sport Singapore
Leading her team-mates Toh Sze Ning, 25, and Faye Lim Yu Fei, 20, into the mixed pairs BC3 event at the 3rd Asian Games in Jakarta, Nurulasyiqah was determined to script a different outcome.
That resilience shone through as the trio fought their way into the gold medal match but had to settle for silver after a 4-2 defeat to Hong Kong.
The team’s final day of competition (12 Oct) at the Tanjung Priok Sports Hall had started with a 9-0 loss to South Korea in their final Pool A match although that did not hinder passage into the semi-finals where they met Thailand and triumphed 4-2.
Nurulasyiqah said her team was unfazed by the heavy defeat to the Koreans.
“We approached each match one at a time, and we treated the match against South Korea as a warm-up with an eye on making the semi-finals,” she said. “We didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves and just took it like a training session to prepare for other matches coming up.
“The semi-final against Thailand was understandably a very important milestone. It was a very tight match where we were neck-and-neck going into the fourth and final end. Fortunately for us, we held on to the final point to secure the win and a shot at the gold medal.”
The quest for gold got off to a rocky start but the team simply never gave up.
“We fell 3-0 behind after two ends and managed to narrow the gap with two points in the third end,” said Nurulasyiqah. “It went down to the final ball in a very tight fourth end. We tried our best but Hong Kong managed to keep themselves ahead.
“We’re happy and relieved to have won this silver medal because we have surpassed the target we’ve set for this Games which was to at least achieve a bronze medal finish for the BC3 pairs. This match was a good testament to our resilience.”
Toh Sze Ning is already a veteran of international Boccia competitions. Photo: Sport Singapore
The event’s name – mixed pairs – was also deceptive in that it indicated a team of two players when in fact, all three players in the team could be involved, as well as their assistants who help set the ramp to launch the balls while always keeping the backs to the action.
“Our strategy was to start with Faye and then bring Sze Ning into the match. It was all part of the plan to enable all members of the BC3 team to contribute to the gold medal match,” Nurulasyiqah explained.
“A special shout-out also to our sports assistants, without whom we would not even be able to play as BC3 athletes. Thank you for always keeping calm under pressure when you’re not able to even see what’s going on on-court. Thank you for being part of our journey.
Summing up the campaign, Nurulasyiqah said: “I’m extremely proud of my team. I think we’ve redeemed ourselves from our Incheon 2014 campaign when we didn’t even make it past the pool stage. This was also our opportunity to do better than the World Championships in Liverpool in August where we also did not manage to do that well.
“So, it feels good that we were able to make this comeback knowing that we have had to put in a lot of effort and hard work to get to where we are today.”
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