by Nicolette Mok
Former recreational archer Nur Syahidah Alim has taken her passion to competitive heights.
Nur Syahidah Alim picked up her first bow and arrow when she was 18 years old. However, she will have to wait till this December to don the national colours, during her debut at the region’s most important para sports meet: the 8th ASEAN Para Games (APG).
Embarking on her lifelong love for the sport as a recreational archer, 30-year old Syahidah decided to turn competitive just under two years ago, opting to juggle both her corporate commitments and sporting career.
Relating her journey, the Sport Singapore corporate strategy executive, who holds a Masters degree in Knowledge Management, recounted that it was the experience of trying out a whole host of other activities that made her realise her love for archery: “I went for [an exhibition] and the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) was there. They had a range of sports for persons with disabilities to try out. I tried them all and archery was still the one that intrigued me the most.”
And that’s when she made the move to train competitively. Admitting that she had never envisioned herself as a national athlete before doing so, she remarked: “When you like the sport very much and you become very passionate about it, that’s when you decide to go to the next level, which is the competitive level.”
“I am actually pretty active in sports. I do swimming, brisk-walking, and have participated in running events too. But archery is the sport that I want to pursue and continue doing for a very long time,” she added.
Explaining the fundamentals of para archery, she said: “The rules are the same as those for able-bodied archers. The slight difference is the classification part, which depends on the degree of our disabilities. If you look at how we practise, or the videos of para archery that are on YouTube, we have archers who can shoot while standing while others sit. We also have archers who shoot while sitting on a wheelchair. There are also categories for the visually impaired and those with intellectual disabilities.”
Syahidah, who was born with cerebral palsy and walks with an atypical gait, will be competing in the Compound Open category for the APG, which permits contenders to shoot either while sitting or standing.
Whether she competes while sitting or standing, though, hardly matters to the avid archer. Expressing what she loved best about the sport, she said: “It’s the follow-through of the entire process of archery that appeals most to me. From the point where you nock your arrow, to the point where you draw and aim, there’s a lot that needs to be considered. It’s like an art.”
“I think my life would be boring without archery! It helps me to focus more, not only on the field, but also at work and in my daily life. It helps me to prioritise and concentrate.”
Indeed, it would appear that Syahidah possesses excellent time-management skills. Her training schedule runs six days a week, with only a day off, and the dedicated sportsperson has been spending most of her non-working hours on her chosen sport, in a bid to do her part for the nation’s para sports scene.
“I hope that, through our participation in APG and other major sporting events and competitions, we can let everyone see that they shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. A person is measured based on ability, and not by how he or she looks like,” she asserted.
“My personal goals for the APG would be for me, along with my team, to bring home a medal. Most importantly, we also hope that our participation in the APG will help to increase the awareness for disability sports.”
Share Syahidah’s love for archery as she attempts to make her mark on the regional stage at the 8th ASEAN Para Games this year, from 3 to 9 December!