Team Singapore wheelchair racer, Norsilawati Binte Sa'at crossing the finishing line in the Women's 400 metres T52 Finals. Photo: Sport Singapore
Team Singapore wheelchair racer, Norsilawati Binte Sa’at captured the hearts of the Olympic Stadium on Saturday with her determined effort in the Women’s 400 metres T52 Finals encapsulating the spirit of the Paralympics.
Norsilawati, who was injured in a road accident in 2001, fracturing her spine and leaving her without use of her legs, finished a distant last in the race won by Canada’s Michelle Stilwell but as she approached the finish line, the crowd roared her on and cheered as she crossed the finish line.
For the 39-year-old, who said she had at times felt her dream of reaching a Paralympics may have passed her by, it was evidently a moving moment.
“I was simply amazed with the crowd, the roaring and everything, it was absolutely incredible,” Norsilawati said after the race.
“My time wasn’t that good but I gave it my all, my best when I was out there, the crowd really pushed me to do my best”
“It was a real surge, the euphoria was amazing. I am lost for words,” she said.
Norsilawati made her first international competition appearance in Brazil back in 2005 when she appeared in the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games in Rio de Janeiro.
She then went on to represent Singapore at the ASEAN Para Games in 2008 but was unable to make it to the Paralympics in Beijing that year and in 2011, with her chances of making the London Games looking slim, she took an extended break from the sport.
But she returned to racing last year and her dedication and improved performance enabled her to secure a spot in Rio.
“I never lost sight of competing in a Paralympics, I told myself each race that I had to make it to Rio and so it is a dream come true,” she said.
“The reason why I am here is because of the support of my family and friends, especially my sister."
While she may be one of the older members of the Singapore contingent in Rio, Norsilawati says she still has plenty of time left to compete.
“You have people here in their 40’s and they are still doing incredible times, age is not a limit or a barrier. As long as you have the passion, commitment and dedication, you can go far,” she said.
Norsilawati will be back at the Olympic Stadium to compete in the 100 metres event which is her favoured distance but before then she hopes to support her team-mates Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu in the swimming races.
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