‘My mother is my hero, she challenges me’

MS NUR SYAHIDAH ALIM, 32, Team Singapore compound archer

Para-archer Syahidah, who was born with cerebral palsy, says her hero is her mother.

“To many people, she’s just a simple housewife, but to me, she’s a strong and resilient woman who always asks me to challenge myself and prove to society that I can be on a par with it,” says Ms Syahidah.

She was introduced to the sport at a disability expo when she was 18 years old.

After graduating with a Master of Science (Knowledge Management) in 2013, her mother encouraged her to try out for the national team, and she was selected in 2014.

She bagged two gold medals at her debut in the 2015 Asean Para Games in Singapore, and was also the first female archer to represent Singapore in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, where she reached the quarter-finals.

DON’T LET DISABILITY GET IN THE WAY

I would like to encourage persons with disabilities to try out a sport. Do not be afraid of what will happen. Just take the plunge and have fun.

MS NUR SYAHIDAH ALIM

She successfully defended her gold at the 2017 Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Unfortunately, her bid to become the first para-athlete to represent Singapore at this year’s SEA Games held in Kuala Lumpur, alongside able-bodied athletes, was unsuccessful despite her meeting the qualifying criteria in her category across multiple competitions.

“The SEA Games Federation felt that me sitting on the stool posed an advantage and that the federation must be fair to able-bodied athletes and not set a precedent where para-athletes enjoy an advantage,” she says.

She encourages persons with disabilities to try out a sport and for the public to contribute in terms of volunteering or being a sports assistant to para athletes.

Ms Syahidah is on a two-year sabbatical from her job in corporate strategy at Sport Singapore to train full time under the Sports Excellence Scholarship (conferred by Sport Singapore) for the 2018 Asian Para Games.


Music brings him out of his shell

MR KEN WONG, 29, Music teacher at Faith Music Centre

Mr Ken Wong, who started losing his vision at the age of nine due to macular dystrophy, teaches music at Faith Music Centre to children, adults, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Mr Ken Wong, who started losing his vision at the age of nine due to macular dystrophy, teaches music at Faith Music Centre to children, adults, senior citizens and people with disabilities. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Although he cannot see the strings on a guitar or the keys on the keyboard, Mr Wong has been teaching music since 2015 at Faith Music Centre, located in the Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club.

Set up in mid-2008, the centre’s learners include children, adults and senior citizens, as well as persons with disabilities.

Diagnosed with macular dystrophy at the age of nine years old, Mr Wong does not have central vision and has less than 20 per cent of the vision of a normal person.

Macular dystrophy is a rare genetic eye disorder that causes vision loss due to the deterioration of the inner back lining of the eye where the retina and light-sensitive cells (photoreceptors) are found.

He studied pyschology in Australia for about four years after his O-level examinations. Alone in a foreign land, he suffered from social anxiety, failed badly and came back to Singapore.

“I was always quiet and kept to myself to the point where I didn’t leave the house,” explains Mr Wong.

REDISCOVERING LIFE

Music has given me so much – helped me overcome my anxiety, forced me to go on stage to sing and perform. That kind of confidence and finding purpose in life, they came through music for me.

MR KEN WONG

His life changed when his friends got him a keyboard for his 21st birthday. He searched for schools to learn music and forced himself to go out. Starting with the digital piano in 2010, he has also learnt to play the guitar, bass, drums and various band instruments.

He admits that being visually impaired means that he has to learn music with a lot of patience and memory work while “enduring his own lousy playing”.

Now he finds a sense of fulfilment in teaching music to persons with disabilities and giving back to the society.

“Music has given me so much – helped me overcome my anxiety, forced me to go on stage to sing and perform. That kind of confidence and finding purpose in life, they came through music for me,” says Mr Wong.



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