Paralympics: Archer Nur Syahidah Alim reflects on disappointing Tokyo campaign

SINGAPORE – Archer Nur Syahidah Alim knows she failed to live up to expectations at the Paralympics in Tokyo.

The world No. 2 in the women’s individual compound open rankings crashed out of the competition with a 140-136 loss to Turkey’s world No. 7 Sevgi Yorulmaz on Monday (Aug 30).

Speaking to The Straits Times while serving her Stay Home Notice, she said Tokyo might have been the trickiest venue she has competed at because of the strong winds that kept changing direction.

She said: “The biggest challenge was the windy conditions in Tokyo. During the 1/8 elimination, what happened is after the first few ends, we were pretty much neck and neck. But unfortunately, I was dealt a not-very-good hand in terms of wind and I was not able to recover in time.

“I misread the wind many times, it’s possible that may have affected my performance.”

Syahidah and Yorulmaz were tied at 57-all after six arrows each but the 39-year-old Turk began to pull away after that. She took the lead by one point after nine arrows before claiming victory and a spot in the last eight, where she was beaten 139-129 by Stepanida Artakhinova of the Russian Paralympic Committee.

Briton Phoebe Paterson Pine won the gold after narrowly beating Chile’s Mariana Zuniga Varela 134-133 in the final. Italian world No. 3 Maria Andrea Virgilio claimed the bronze after notching a 142-139 win over Artakhinova in the third-place play-off.

Syahidah also lamented the lack of competition opportunities because of the pandemic. While she had simulated competition conditions in training, it was not the same, she noted.

“It is important to have that live competition exposure overseas which we hope we’ll be able to have for upcoming major Games. If we had gone, it would have helped mentally,” she said.

“It’s a bit disappointing but for every competition, it’s a lesson learnt and something that we will hope to improve on for other Games.”

Syahidah is now choosing to focus on the positives such as having good shooting processes and routines in place. She also hopes to improve her mental strength ahead of next year’s Asean Para Games in Hanoi and Asian Para Games in Hangzhou.

She said: “The biggest improvement I had in Tokyo was that I found myself being able to not only execute a consistent process and routine, but also accept my mistakes.

“I grew as a person and as an athlete and I know with the experience I now have from Tokyo, I can work together with my coach and team at the Singapore Sport Institute to better my performance at upcoming Games.”

Syahidah also thanked her coach Pang Qing Liang and the Team Singapore contingent in Tokyo who encouraged and supported her there.

In the long run, she hopes to continue achieving new milestones for Singapore. In 2019, Syahidah became the nation’s first world champion archer after she won the individual compound open event and later became the first Singaporean archer to be ranked No. 1.

While she and Pang will take a short break from training, “this will be a good time for coach to work on a new training plan for me for the next year”, she added. “I’m looking forward to it and I hope that the plan will help me perform better at the upcoming competitions.”

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