Tokyo Paralympics: Singapore para-athletes gunning for glory

·7-min read
Singapore para-archer Nur Syahidah Alim, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)
Singapore para-archer Nur Syahidah Alim, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

SINGAPORE — Singapore will be sending 10 para-athletes to compete in six sports at the Tokyo Paralympics, which will be held from 24 August to 5 September. 

At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, swimmer Yip Pin Xiu won two golds and Theresa Goh also added a swimming bronze. It was the third straight Paralympics in which Singapore para-athletes had earned medals.

Can this contingent continue the medal haul in Tokyo? Here are the 10 para-athletes aiming for glory:

Nur Syahidah Alim
(Archery - women's individual compound open)

The current world No.1 women's para-archer, Syahidah became Singapore's first world champion at the 2019 World Archery Para Championships in the Netherlands. She will be aiming to improve on her quarter-final showing at the Rio Paralympics. 

The three-time ASEAN Para Games gold medallist, who has cerebral palsy, was the chairperson of the Singapore Para Athletes Commission from 2018 to 2020, and is also a member of the Asian Para Committee's athletes committee.

Singapore para-athlete Muhammad Diroy Nordin, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Sanketa Anand)
Singapore para-athlete Muhammad Diroy Nordin, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Sanketa Anand)

Muhammad Diroy Nordin
(Athletics - men's shot put F40)

Chosen as Team Singapore's flag bearer for the Tokyo Paralympics, the 1.29m-tall Diroy - who was born with a condition called short stature - with a won a silver medal for shot put at the 2019 World Para Athletics Grand Prix Tunisia, as well as a javelin gold at the 2018 China Open Athletics Championships. 

Those medal wins earned the graphics designer the nod as the Sportsman of the Year at the 2019 Singapore Disability Sports Awards. This will be his second appearance at the Paralympics, following his debut at the Rio Games. He had set a personal-best throw of 9.78 metres during a recent Singapore Athletics performance trial.

Singapore para-cyclist Steve Tee (left) and his pilot Ang Kee Meng, both of whom will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Dyan Tjhia/SportSG)
Singapore para-cyclist Steve Tee (left) and his pilot Ang Kee Meng, both of whom will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Dyan Tjhia/SportSG)

Steve Tee/Ang Kee Meng
(Cycling - road: men's B time trail, track: men's B 1,000m time trial, 4,000m individual pursuit)

In securing a spot at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020, Tee and Ang became the first male tandem cycling pair to represent Singapore at the Paralympics. The duo had trained for only three months before taking part in the 2017 ASEAN Para Games, but still managed to win a bronze medal in the men's 24.6km individual time trials.

Tee, who was diagnosed with a rare disease that causes partial loss of vision, had captained Singapore's five-a-side football team at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, but switched to tandem para-cycling in 2017 with former national cyclist Ang as the pilot.

Singapore para-equestrienne Laurentia Tan, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (FILE PHOTO: Getty Images)
Singapore para-equestrienne Laurentia Tan, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (FILE PHOTO: Getty Images)

Laurentia Tan
(Equestrian - individual test (Grade I), individual freestyle test (Grade I), team test to music)

With one silver and three bronzes won over the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics, Tan is the joint-most be-medalled Singapore para-athlete, together with Yip Pin Xiu. Her medal wins also made her the first Asian woman to have clinched an equestrian medal at the Paralympics.

Born with cerebral palsy and profound deafness, Tan took up horse riding as a form of physiotherapy. In recognition of her achievements, she was conferred public service medals, the Meritorious Service Medal in 2008 and the Public Service Star in 2012. 

Singapore para-equestrienne Gemma Rose Foo, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)
Singapore para-equestrienne Gemma Rose Foo, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

Gemma Rose Foo
(Equestrian - individual test (Grade I), individual freestyle test (Grade I), team test to music)

When she was just 12, Foo was already competing in her first competition at the 2008 Singapore Disability Sports Council National Disability League. At age 16, Foo earned a spot in the first Asian ParaEquestrian team to compete at the 2012 London Paralympics. 

Foo, who has cerebral palsy, also represented Singapore in the team test (Grade 1a) event at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. She has had some good recent results, such as coming in third at the 2021 Pferd International Munchen competition.

Singapore para-equestrienne Maximillian Tan, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)
Singapore para-equestrienne Maximillian Tan, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

Maximillian Tan
(Equestrian - individual test (Grade II), individual freestyle test (Grade II), team test to music)

Tan made his Paralympic debut at the 2012 London Games as a part of a team of three riders, and also competed at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Originally a sailor, he had represented Singapore in international sailing competitions before starting competitive riding at age 18.

The 34-year-old was born with cerebral palsy, and started therapeutic riding at the age of seven at Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Singapore. As a Paralympian, he hopes to raise awareness of both the equestrian sport and disabilities.

Singapore para-powerlifter Nur'Aini Mohamad Yasli, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Singapore para-powerlifter Nur'Aini Mohamad Yasli, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

Nur ’Aini Mohamad Yasli
(Powerlifting - women's 45kg)

Nur'Aini took up powerlifting in 2017 via national powerlifter Kalai Vanen, and was chosen to represent Singapore at the ASEAN Para Games two months into the sport. She has made strides in her sport since then, winning a bronze medal at the Fazza Dubai Para Powerlifting World Cup this year with her personal-best lift of 81kg. 

Nur’Aini was diagnosed at age six with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, which impacted her bone growth. The 29-year-old will make her Paralympic debut in Tokyo.

Singapore para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)
Singapore para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

Yip Pin Xiu
(Swimming - women's 50m backstroke (S2), 100m backstroke (S2))

In the history of the Paralympics, Singapore has three gold medals - and all three were won by Yip Pin Xiu. The 29-year-old won her first gold at the 2008 Beijing Games in the women's 50m backstroke (S3) event, and as her muscles degenerated with age, she moved to the S2 category and won another two golds at the Rio Games, setting world records in the women's 50m and 100m backstroke races.

In recognition of her achievements, the former Nominated Member of Parliament was conferred the public service Meritorious Service Medal in 2016, and named Sportswoman of the Year at the Singapore Disability Sports Awards in 2019 and 2021.

Singapore para-swimmer Sophie Soon, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)
Singapore para-swimmer Sophie Soon, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

Sophie Soon
(Swimming - women's 100m breaststroke (SB12), 100m butterfly (S13))

Soon made her international swimming debut in representing Singapore at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, but this will be her first appearance at the Paralympics. She came in top eight in the women's 100m breaststroke (SB12) event at both the 2018 Asian Para Games and the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships.

The 24-year-old was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy as a child, a condition which causes deteriorating vision. Besides sports, she has also pursued her interest in music; as a Grade 8 violinist, she has performed with The Sam Willows at the 2014 President’s Star Charity Show.

Singapore para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)
Singapore para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong, who will be taking part at the Tokyo Paralympics. (PHOTO: Singapore Disability Sports Council)

Toh Wei Soong
(Swimming - men's 50m freestyle (S7), 400m freestyle (S7), 50m butterfly (S7))

Toh rose to prominence at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games where he won three golds for Singapore, and followed up his feat by winning two more at the 2017 edition. He went from strength to strength in 2018, winning two golds at the Asian Para Games and becoming the first Singapore para-athlete to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.

The 22-year-old was diagnosed with the rare condition of transverse myelitis (inflammed spinal cord), which leads to weakness and numbness of the limbs. After taking up swimming at age six, he fell in love with the experience of being in water. 

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