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Nurulasyiqah strikes gold at Finland World Boccia Challenger

After cruising to a 10-1 win over Saudi Arabia’s Lujain Althaqfi in the opening pool-stage match of the May 9-17 Pajulahti World Boccia Challenger, disaster struck for Singapore’s Nurulasyiqah Mohd Taha.

On May 11, Nurul plugged in her motorised wheelchair, which she uses to compete in the BC3 women’s individual event, but its battery charger malfunctioned.

Fortunately, compatriot Toh Sze Ning lent her charger to Nurul, helping her claim the gold medal in Finland. Her last win at an international competition came at the 2014 Montreal Boccia World Open.

Nurul, 39, told The Straits Times: “I smelled like something burning and I was so scared that it would trip the entire building but fortunately it was just my charger fuse that got blown out.

“We were already going to turn in for the night so for that one hour my teammate and I were trying to scramble like how are we going to resolve this. It was a very big scare and at that moment I was thinking about how I was going to charge it for the following days.”

As the mishap happened on a Saturday, Nurul could not contact any motorised wheelchair vendors in Helsinki. An information booklet also stated there was no wheelchair repair service available near the competition venue.

But Toh came to the rescue, though she was Nurul’s direct competitior in the BC3 event. Toh offered to lend her own charger which Nurul gratefully accepted.

Nurul added: “I was still a bit worried because I didn’t want to blow up another charger. I didn’t know what was the cause of the fuse blowing up. The following days, the struggle was trying to coordinate our schedules so I could use the charger when she was not busy.”

While Toh did not advance past the pool stage, Nurul earned a bye to the semi-finals after topping Pool B with a 7-1 win over Denmark’s Tanija Madsen.

Thanking Toh for extending her a “lifeline”, she then triumphed 5-3 over Italy’s Giulia Marchisio before defeating Germany’s Nancy Poser 6-2 to seal her gold medal.

Up against Poser in the final, an opponent she had never met before, Nurul had to employ unique strategies to secure the win.

Nurul added: “In the second set, she played a really long distance and the flooring was difficult to overcome. That area of the court where she placed her ball was very challenging. But with the knowledge of my ball placements, I was able to play a better fourth set.”

While Toh did not earn a podium spot in the BC3 female individuals event, she and Aloysius Gan dominated in the BC3 mixed pairs. They beat Finland 7-1, received a bye in round 2 and triumphed 8-0 against Saudi Arabia.

In the semi-finals, they beat Germany 6-2 and clinched the gold medal with a convincing 9-0 win against Italy.