Singapore to debut in Boccia at 2012 Paralympic Games

For the first time, Singapore has qualified to compete in the sport of Boccia at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Ms Nurulasyiqah Taha, 27, will be representing the country at the Games which will be held from Aug 29 to Sep 9.

Ms Nurul, who has spinal muscular dystrophy, is currently ranked no. 8 in the world in category BC3, which is a classification for players with very severe locomotor dysfunction in all four extremities.

This means that they have no sustained graps or release action and insufficient range of movement to propel a Boccia ball onto the court.

Ms Nurul therefore uses a ramp and an assistant to help her deliver the ball.

The first-time Paralympian will face tough competition against longtime Paralympic elites from Korea, Portugal and other countries, but she is not prepared to back down under pressure.

"As a new Paralympian, I'd like to believe that I am relieved of the baggage associated with personal performances at past Games. I have a clean slate to put into motion my plans to outplay the other Boccia players," said Ms Nurul, who has been training since 2004.

She added that she would not have come this far without the understanding of her employer, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, and others who have come forth to support her, even while she was a relatively unknown athlete.

Boccia is a precision sport similar to Bocce but designed for people with severe disability. Opposing players aim to land leather balls of their colour nearest to a target ball called the jack. Boccia is one of the three Paralympic sports without counterparts in the Olympic Games.

klim@sph.com.sg

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