Team Singapore

Singapore's 13 at the Paralympics

We profile the 13-strong Team Singapore contingent who will be doing battle in Rio​

EQUESTRIAN

MAXIMILLIAN TAN (left)

  • Age: 29
  • Sport: Equestrian
  • Events: Team test, Individual championship test, Individual freestyle test (Grade 1b)
  • Competition dates: Sept 12, 15 & 17

The equestrian rider, who suffers from cerebral palsy, made news in 2012 when it was reported that Maximillian (inset, left) and his father David had to sleep in stables when preparing for his Paralympic bow at the London Games, as hotels were too expensive.

The Tans' sacrifice showed how seriously they took the sport and the belief they had in Max, who came out tops at the 2012 International Para-Equestrian Dressage Championships.

LAURENTIA TAN (centre)

  • Age: 37
  • Sport: Equestrian
  • Events: Team test, Individual championship test, Individual freestyle test (Grade 1a)
  • Competition dates: Sept 13, 16 & 17

A history-maker who won Singapore's first medal at the Paralympics when Tan (inset, centre) earned bronze in the individual championship test (Grade 1a), and then clinched another bronze in the individual freestyle test event, at the 2008 Games in China.

Four years later in London, she again medalled, this time winning one silver and another bronze. She remains the only Asian equestrian medallist so far in the history of the Paralympics.

Tan developed cerebral palsy and profound deafness after birth, and moved to the United Kingdom - where she is based - with her parents at the age of three.

GEMMA ROSE FOO (right)

  • Age: 20
  • Sport: Equestrian
  • Events: Team test, Individual championship test, Individual freestyle test (Grade 1a)
  • Competition dates: Sept 13, 16 & 17

Diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia - the most severe form of cerebral palsy - when she was born prematurely, Foo (inset, right) took up riding as a form of therapy when she was eight.

At 14, she was picked by national coach, Volker Eubel, to join the national equestrian team and, two years later, represented Singapore at the London Paralympics in 2012.

However, Foo is currently not in tip-top condition in Rio, as she is recovering from a ruptured spleen after she was thrown off her horse in March during a training accident.


SWIMMING

THERESA GOH (left)

  • Age: 29
  • Sport: Swimming
  • Events: Women's 50m, 100m & 200m Freestyle S5, Women's 100m Breaststroke SB4
  • Competition dates: Sept 8, 9, 11 to 13, 17 & 18

The three-time Singapore Disability Sports Council's Sportswoman of the Year is Singapore's most bemedalled Asean Para Games athlete.

Born with spina bifida, Goh's spinal cord was not fully formed and this affected the use of her lower limbs but, in the water, she is a speedster.

She finished fifth in the 100m breaststroke SB4 event in Athens in 2004, then came even closer by finishing fourth in Beijing in 2008, and could make the podium in Rio, on her third time of asking.

YIP PIN XIU (right)

  • Age: 24
  • Sport: Swimming
  • Events: 50m & 100m Backstroke S2
  • Competition dates: Sept 9, 10, 15 & 16

Singapore's first and only Paralympic gold medallist, Yip achieved the historic feat with her triumph in the 50m backstroke at the Beijing Games in 2008.

She might have been born with muscular dystrophy, which gradually causes her muscles to lose their ability to function, but the 24-year-old seems to be getting stronger in the water.

She set world records in both the 50m and 100m backstroke events at the International Paralympic Committee Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal, Portugal, in May, and looks poised to post podium finishes in both events in Rio.


ARCHERY

NUR SYAHIDAH ALIM

  • Age: 31
  • Sport: Archery
  • Event: Women's individual compound
  • Competition dates: Sept 11 & 16

Born with cerebral palsy, Syahidah (above) picked up archery as a hobby at 18, but started competing only 10 years later.

She trains six times a week, and her commitment to her sport paid off at last December's Asean Para Games on home soil, where she bagged two gold medals - in the women's individual compound and mixed team compound events.


ATHLETICS

NORSILAWATI SA'AT

  • Age: 39
  • Sport: Athletics
  • Events: Women's 100m & 400m T52
  • Competition dates: Sept 9, 10 & 16

The wheelchair racer is the oldest of Singapore's 13-strong contingent, and will be returning to the country where she made her international competitive debut.

Sila (right), as she is known to friends, first competed at the the 2005 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports World Games in Rio.

The IT freelancer took up wheelchair racing as a form of rehabilitation, after she lost the use of her legs in a car accident in 2001 which broke her spine.


SUHAIRI SUHANI

  • Age: 19
  • Sport: Athletics
  • Event: Long Jump T20
  • Competition date: Sept 11

Praised by former able-bodied former national sprint king Mohamed Hosni for his relentless work ethic, Suhairi (above) is the youngest member of Singapore's Paralympic contingent.

The Delta Senior School student was diagnosed with intellectual disability, brought about by fever and fits at the age of one.

Previously posting good times as a 100m, 200m and 400m sprints, Suhairi is Singapore's first long jumper at the Paralympics.

Last December, he bagged a silver medal in the long jump with a 6.66m effort, which also earned him the ticket to Rio.

NURULASYIQAH TAHA

  • Age: 31
  • Sport: Boccia
  • Events: Mixed individual & mixed pairs BC3
  • Competition dates: Sept 11, 13 to 17

Born with spinal muscular atrophy, Nurul first learned of boccia in 2003, and clinched a bronze medal in her international competitive debut at the 2010 World Boccia Championships in Portugal.

She has not looked back since, competing at the 2012 London Paralympics, and winning gold medals at the Asean Para Games level.

The Singapore Management University accountancy graduate has mentored younger players, and, in 2014, was named a recipient of the Singapore Youth Award, for her contribution towards sports in Singapore and efforts to make a difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities.

Nurul can also read, write and speak simple Korean, after she decided to learn the language so she could communicate with the top boccia players in Asia. She has also been learning to speak Japanese in preparation for the Tokyo Games in 2020.

DIROY NOORDIN

  • Age: 24
  • Sport: Athletics
  • Events: Javelin F41, Shot put F40
  • Competition dates: Sept 11 & 16

The graphic designer, who suffers from dwarfism, picked up shot up and javelin only three years ago, but shone on his international debut in April this year.

Competing at the China Open Athletics Championships, he met the Rio Paralympics 'A' qualification mark in the men's F40 shot put when he threw 7.78m, but lost out on the initial selection for the Games as the sole male slot went to long jumper Suhairi Suhani.

But Diroy was awarded a spot after Russia were banned from the Rio Games on charges of state-sponsored doping, and one additional male slot in athletics opened up.

TOH SZE NING

  • Age: 23
  • Sport: Boccia
  • Events: Mixed individual & mixed pairs BC3
  • Competition dates: Sept 11, 13 to 17

Born with a severe case of cerebral palsy, Toh (right) first picked up boccia as a CCA when she was 13, and started playing the sport competitively two years later.

That was when she participated in her first Asean Para Games (APG), in 2008, and she has gone on to win gold and silver medals at subsequent APGs.

She counts Australian motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, who was born a without limbs, as her greatest inspiration.


SAILING

JOVIN TAN

  • Age: 30
  • Sport: Sailing
  • Event: SKUD18
  • Competition dates: Sept 12 to 17

Born with cerebral palsy, Tan (above, left) will be making his fourth Paralympics appearance, having made his debut at the 2004 Athens Games as a 17-year-old.

Then racing as part of Singapore's trio in the three-person sonar event, he then competed at the China Games and London Games in the SKUD18 category.

He will partner Yap Qian Yin, who he won the Asian Para Games gold medal in the Double-handed Hansa 303 event with in 2014.

YAP QIAN YIN

  • Age: 26
  • Sport: Sailing
  • Event: SKUD18
  • Competition dates: Sept 12 to 17

Wheelchair-bound after suffering spinal inflammation caused by leukaemia in 2008, Yap (above, right) won Singapore's first Asian Para Games gold medal in the Double-handed Hansa 303 event with Jovin Tan - whom she will partner again in Rio.

And at last December's Asean Para Games on home soil, she won the women's Hansa 2.3 title in what was her first major outing in a single-handed class.

Swimmers Goh and Yip raring to go

Their nerves might be jangling a little, but Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu are ready to race.

Goh, 29, will be Singapore's first athlete in action at the Rio Paralympics, with her 200m freestyle S5 heats scheduled for 10.36pm tonight.

The final will be at 7.18am tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Yip, meanwhile, will be in the pool at 8.45pm tomorrow for the 100m backstroke S2 heats - for which she holds the world record - with the final scheduled at 4.50am on Saturday morning.

The duo's coach, Briton Mick Massey, told The New Paper in an e-mail interview: "All athletes get apprehensive as they get close to a big race day.

"Both our girls are the same, but they are also confident in the knowledge that they have prepared well."

Goh and Yip have reason to be self-assured.

They have been to Australia, Cyprus, Russia, Portugal, Germany, Thailand, Australia and Spain to train or compete this year and posted encouraging results.

Yip, who has muscular dystrophy, will be the odds-on favourite for her two events, the 50m and 100m backstroke S2, after setting world records at the International Paralympic Committee Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal, Portugal in May.

The 24-year-old looks poised to add to the gold (50m backstroke S3) and silver (50m freestyle S3) she mined at the 2008 Paralympics in China.

Meanwhile, Goh, who has spina bifida, is Singapore's most bemedalled Asean Para Games athlete, and set a new Asian record in the women's 100m breaststroke SB4 in May.

Massey has been zeroing in on certain aspects of his swimmers' race habits.

"The key through the year was to gradually build intensity and volume through each cycle," said the coach.

"A big emphasis for Theresa was to increase her 'second 50' endurance, or backend, as we say in swimming.

"Theresa has a lot of speed but must maintain early advantage at the end of the race.

"Pin Xiu is more sprint-based and swimming fast requires high levels of technical ability."

But the former British Disability Swimming coach, who started coaching Goh and Yip in March 2015, stopped short on putting any pressure on either of his charges to win.

"As far as expectation goes, our aim is to try and make the podium in the girls' key events," said Massey. If we manage that, we will have been successful."

Paralympics2016 Rio OlympicsTeam Singapore