APG2018: Syahidah undaunted by challenges past and present
24 September 2018
Wong Jeng Teng
TeamSG archer Syahidah Alim has had to face many obstacles since she was a child, but she has remained steadfast in her conviction to succeed.
She was denied the opportunity to take part in sports at a young age, but that failed to stop TeamSG archer Syahidah Alim from becoming a 3-time gold medallist at the ASEAN Para Games and Singapore’s first Paralympic archer.
Gold medallist Syahidah with ASEAN Para Games mascot Rimau at the APG in Kuala Lumpur last year. Photo: Flona Hakim / SportSG
On her path to achieving such breakthroughs, Syahidah has never once allowed her disability to hold her back. Cerebral palsy affected Syahidah’s mobility from birth, but her parents did not treat her any differently from her two other siblings. In fact, it was not till she started school that Syahidah began realising that she was not quite like her able-bodied peers.
“My childhood made me realise how different I was compared to my peers, but regardless of that, my mum told me [not to] care about what other people think, just prove them wrong, and to do my best and work hard,” she shared.
During a time when integrating people with disabilities was uncommon, Syahidah did not get the chance to play sports or participate in activities like her school’s sports day when she was growing up. Her mother did manage to convince a teacher to allow her to join the girl guides as an extracurricular activity, and Syahidah proved herself by becoming “one of the best officers” in her group.
Syahidah all smiles at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Fueled by her family’s encouragement and acceptance of her peers, Syahidah has developed an intrinsic self-belief to push beyond the boundaries imposed on her by her condition or the presumptions of others, and this trait has been key to her success on the archery field.
Her “biggest breakthrough” in her sport was her qualification for the national training squad for the 29th SEA Games in 2017, after she emerged as one of the best archers in Singapore by topping her category at the Singapore Archery Open 2016.
“That was one of my best achievements, and I think it was also one of the few opportunities [where] people with disabilities [were] able to join an able-bodied national team,” Syahidah pointed out.
“It really helped in terms of increasing my skills and standards as an archer, being able to spar with other seasoned and strong archers in Singapore. It [also] opened up my eyes to the able-bodied athletes, [who were] pretty open to helping people with disabilities,” she observed.
Her achievement and foray into the able-bodied sports scene inspired many other para-athletes within the fraternity to step up their attempts to do the same. Their positivity and spirit have in turn fueled Syahidah’s belief further.
“Hearing that people are getting inspired to move forward [because of me] was really good, and I hope that other para-athletes will be able to achieve that.”
“If it’s not going to be me, then it’s probably going to be other para-athletes [who achieve the breakthrough] one day,” Syahidah expressed.
New milestones on her mind, heading into the Asian Para Games
For now, Syahidah has her sights fully set on the upcoming Asian Para Games, attending a week-long training camp earlier this April in Arizona conducted by a coach from the U.S. Olympic team, and achieving a third-place finish at the World Ranking Tournament in the Czech Republic in July.
Robert Fuchs (left) and Syahidah (right) at the 2017 ASEAN Para Games. Photo: Dyan Tjhia / SportSG
She will be taking part in the individual compound women event, as well as the mixed team event with her partner, Robert Fuchs, during the Games in October.
“My aim is to reach podium for the Asian Para Games, and hopefully achieve my personal best there,” she stated.
Show Syahidah your full support as she works towards the Asian Para Games, taking place from 6 to 13 October in Jakarta. Follow us on the Team Singapore Facebook, Instagram and website for more updates and features!
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