Singapore’s Nur Syahidah Alim claims gold at the Asian Para Archery Championships
It was deja vu for Singapore archer Nur Syahidah Alim as she found herself up against India’s Sheetal Devi in the women’s compound open gold-medal match of the Asian Para Archery Championships in Bangkok.
Less than a month ago, Syahidah, 38, and Devi, 16, had met in the final at the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, where the latter prevailed 144-142.
But on Nov 22, world No. 4 Syahidah made sure history did not repeat itself against her third-ranked opponent, who won silver at the 2023 Para-Archery World Championships.
The duo were neck and neck in the final as they remained tied at 142-142 after the regulation five ends, forcing a shoot-off.
The contest ended in a 10-all tie, but Syahidah was awarded the top prize as her arrow was closer to the centre. Devi’s compatriot Sarita Adhana was third after beating fellow Indian Jyoti Balyan in the bronze-medal match.
“I’m proud and happy to be able to reach another milestone for Singapore at the Asian Para Championships,” said Syahidah, who was born with diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy marked by stiff lower limbs and having difficulty walking or standing for extended periods of time.
“This achievement is a testament to the collective efforts and support of both my coach and the team at Singapore Sport Institute towards working on improving my shooting performance.”
The Singaporean had scored 675 in the qualification stage to progress directly to the second round where she beat South Korea’s Choi Na-mi 139-136, before overcoming Indian Balyan 140-138 in the semi-finals to set up a rematch with Devi.
During the shoot-off, she remained calm by “focusing on my shooting process” and having confidence in her shot.
The 2019 world champion said: “We have been continuously working on improving my shooting technique and mental confidence with every competition this year.
“I didn’t expect the opportunity to compete with Devi again after Hangzhou.
“I was excited to be able to put what we have trained for in my finals at Hangzhou and Bangkok, and happy that the outcome was in Singapore’s favour.”
Syahidah has finished on the podium several times this season. In March, she teamed up with national archers Contessa Loh and Madeleine Ong to capture the bronze medal in the women’s compound team event at the Asia Cup.
At the first leg of the Para-Archery European Cup in May, she won a bronze medal behind Brazilian champion Jane Karla Gogel and silver medallist Devi, before her silver in Hangzhou.
With less than a year to the 2024 Paralympics, Syahidah, who had earned a berth for Singapore at the World Archery Para Championships in Pilsen, Czech Republic, is confident that her preparation is going well.
The two-time Paralympian, who made it to the 1/8 elimination round at the Tokyo Games in 2021, is hoping to do better at the Paris Games “in terms of my shooting technique and mental confidence”.
Syahidah’s coach Pang Qing Liang attributed her success to her dedication, saying: “It feels like an acknowledgement of our hard work as we have been working on the technical skill and mental work after Hangzhou so we will continue to strive for consistency and perfection.
“Syahidah’s self-discipline as an athlete is the key to this year’s performances, with her ability to be disciplined in sticking to the training plan and continuing to push forward regardless of the tough moments.”