Tokyo 2020 Games: Get To Know Our Para-Athletes And Their Coaches

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Tokyo 2020 Games: Get To Know Our Para-Athletes And Their Coaches

STORY: Nicholas Yong
25 August 2021
Our 10 Team SG hopefuls representing our Little Red Dot in archery, athletics, cycling, equestrian, power lifting and swimming.
Our 10 Team SG hopefuls representing our Little Red Dot in archery, athletics, cycling, equestrian, power lifting and swimming. | Photos: Sport Singapore, Singapore Disability Sports Council, Singapore National Paralympic Council and athletes' own

The Paralympic Games represent the pinnacle of sporting events for athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities, and usually happen immediately after the Olympics.

This year’s affair kicked off yesterday (24 Aug) and will see 4,403 athletes from around the world competing in 22 sports and 23 disciplines until 5 Sep 2021.

Here, our 10 Team SG representatives and their coaches who've been with them through blood, sweat and tears:

Archer Nur Syahidah Binte Alim (left) and coach Pang Qing Liang.
Archer Nur Syahidah Binte Alim (left) and coach Pang Qing Liang. | Photos: Sport Singapore (Syahidah) and Singapore Disability Sports Council
Aiming for gold, always.
Aiming for gold, always. | Photo: Athlete's own

ARCHERY 

Nur Syahidah Binte Alim
Women's Individual Compound Open

Syahidah is the first female archer to represent Singapore, winning two gold medals at her first event – the 8th ASEAN Para Games. The 36-year-old who was born with diplegia (a type of cerebral palsy which affects the lower limbs) is also Singapore’s first-ever world champion archer, winning the World Archery Para Championships in the Netherlands.

Personal best:

  • Current World No. 2 Para Archer
  • 2020 Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament, Gold
  • 2019 Asian Para Archery Championships, Gold
  • 2019 World Para World Archery Championships, Gold
  • 2018 Asian Para Games, 5th
  • 2017 ASEAN Para Games, Gold
  • 2016 Paralympic Games, 7th

Coach:

  • Pang Qing Liang: Started coaching Syahidah in February 2019 and led her to a first championship in two years. The former national archer coached her to a National Record score during a world ranking competition.

Shot-putter and flag-bearer Muhammad Diroy Bin Noordin (left) and coach Muhamad Hosni Bin Muhamad.
Shot-putter and flag-bearer Muhammad Diroy Bin Noordin (left) and coach Muhamad Hosni Bin Muhamad. | Photos: Singapore National Paralympic Council (Diroy) and Singapore Disability Sports Council

ATHLETICS

Muhammad Diroy Bin Noordin
Men's Shot Put - F40

Taking up shot put and field javelin in 2013, Muhammad Diroy won gold when he made his international debut at the 2016 China Open Athletics Championships. The 29-year-old who was born with a condition called short stature has represented Singapore at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, and 2017 ASEAN Para Games.

Diroy is Team Singapore's flag bearer at the Tokyo Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. 🇸🇬

Personal best:

  • 2019 World Para Athletics Grand Prix Tunisia, Silver
  • 2018 China Open Athletics Championships, Gold
  • 2018 Asian Para Games, 4th
  • 2017 ASEAN Para Games, Silver
  • 2017 World Para Athletics Championships London, 6th
  • 2016 Paralympic Games, 9th

Coach:

  • Muhamad Hosni Bin Muhamad: Hosni began coaching para-athletes in 2014, leading Suhairi Suhani to 8th for the long jump at the 2016 Paralympics. From 2017, he took Diroy under his wing, leading him to a 6th place finish at the World Para Athletics Championship 2019.

(From left) Cyclists Ang Kee Meng (pilot) and Steve Tee, and coach Athena Han.
(From left) Cyclists Ang Kee Meng (pilot) and Steve Tee, and coach Athena Han. | Photos: Singapore Disability Sports Council
The duo in competition mode.
The duo in competition mode. | Photo: Sport Singapore

CYCLING

Steve Tee Wee Leong
Competition Partner: Ang Kee Meng
Road event: Men's B Time Trial
Track events: Men's B 1000m Time Trial and Men’s B 4000m Individual Pursuit

Steve Tee together with former national cyclist Ang Kee Meng will be the first male tandem cycling pair to represent Singapore at the Paralympics. It's incredible to think that Steve, who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 2004, only picked up cycling in January 2017.

In 2015, Steve captained Singapore's five-a-side football team for the visually impaired at the ASEAN Para Games.

Personal best:

  • 9th Para Asian Track Championships 2020, Bronze (IP)
  • 8th Para Asian Track Championships 2019, Bronze (IP)
  • 2018 Asian Games, 7th (IP)
  • 2017 ASEAN Para Games, Bronze (TT)

Coach:

  • Athena Han I-Chia: She oversees training needs for vision-impaired athletes and physically impaired bicyclists, combining the training programme with her sport science expertise. She has led Steve and Kee Meng to multiple medals.

(From left) Equestrians Gemma Foo (with Gambler), Maximillian Tan, and Laurentia Tan with Fuerst Sherlock.
(From left) Equestrians Gemma Foo (with Gambler), Maximillian Tan, and Laurentia Tan with Fuerst Sherlock. | Photos: Athletes’ own

EQUESTRIAN

Gemma Rose Foo Jen
Competing with: Gambler (aged 10). Typically competes with Cassis Royal.

Individual Test - Grade I
Individual Freestyle Test - Grade I
Team Test to Music

Gemma Foo first represented Singapore at the Taiwan 2010 Hope Cup. She started riding at the age of 8 as hippotherapy for cerebral palsy at Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Singapore.

Gemma was part of the first Asian ParaEquestrian team to compete at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Personal best:

  • 2021 CPEDI3* München-Riem: Freestyle to Music Test Grade I, 3rd
  • 2021 CPEDI3* Grote-Brogel: Freestyle to Music Test Grade I, 4th
  • 2016 Paralympic Games: Team Test Grade 1a, 9th

Tan Chern Maximillian
Competing with: Don’s Day Dream (aged 20)

Individual Test - Grade II
Individual Freestyle Test - Grade II
Team Test to Music

Max Tan represented Singapore at international sailing competitions before moving to competitive riding at age 18. He started therapeutic riding at RDA Singapore for cerebral palsy from the age of 7.

Max competed at the 2012 London Paralympics and 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Personal best:

  • 2021 CPEDI3* Grote-Brogel: Freestyle to Music Test Grade II, 3rd
  • 2016 Paralympic Games: Team Test Grade 2, 10th

Laurentia Tan Yen-Yi
In Tokyo, competing with: Banestro (aged 10). Typically competes with Fuerst Sherlock and Banestro.

Individual Test - Grade I
Individual Freestyle Test - Grade I
Team Test to Music

Laurentia Tan is the first Asian woman to win a medal in equestrian sport at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, and the only medallist at the London 2012 Paralympics. One of the best in the sport, Laurentia was born with cerebral palsy and profound deafness, which led her to take up horse riding as a form of physiotherapy.

She was conferred the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat in 2008 and the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat in 2012 for her achievements.

Personal best:

  • 2021 CPEDI3* Grote-Brogel: Individual Championship Test Grade I, 1st
  • 2021 CPEDI3* Grote-Brogel: Freestyle to Music Test Grade I, 1st
  • 2018 World Equestrian Games: Individual Championship Test Grade I, Silver
  • 2014 World Equestrian Games: Individual Championship Test Grade 1a, Bronze
  • 2012 Paralympic Games: Individual Freestyle Test Grade 1a, Silver
  • 2012 Paralympic Games: Individual Championship Test Grade 1a, Bronze
  • 2010 World Equestrian Games (Kentucky, USA) – 5th
  • 2008 Paralympic Games: Individual Freestyle Test Grade 1a, Bronze
Equestrian coach Jörg Alexander Volker Roger Eubel.
Equestrian coach Jörg Alexander Volker Roger Eubel. | Photo: Equestrian Federation

Coach:

  • Jorg Alexander Volker Roger Eubel: The “horse whisperer”, according to Laurentia, Volker has been working with her since 2008. His aim is to find the best combination of horse and rider. He owns a dressage training stable and is a judge up to Grand Prix level.

Nur Aini (left) and coach Muhammad Abdul Razak Bin Mansor.
Nur Aini (left) and coach Muhammad Abdul Razak Bin Mansor. | Photos: Singapore National Paralympic Council (Aini) and Singapore Disability Sports Council

POWERLIFTING

Nur ’Aini Binte Mohamad Yasli
Women's - 45 kg

Nur ’Aini was approached by Team Singapore Powerlifter Kalai Vanen to take part in the sport, and she competed at the 9th ASEAN Para Games 2017. Diagnosed with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, the 29-year-old para-powerlifter won the bronze medal at 11th Fazza Dubai Para Powerlifting World Cup, lifting 81kg.

Personal best:

  • 11th Fazza Dubai 2021 World Para Powerlifting World Cup, Women's U45Kg, Bronze
  • 10th Fazza Dubai 2019 World Para Powerlifting World Cup, Women's U45Kg, 5th
  • 2018 Asian Para Games, Women's U45Kg, 4th

Coach:

  • Muhammad Abdul Razak Bin Mansor: In 2018, he guided Kalai Vanen and Nur 'Aini to qualify for the Asian Para Games 2018 and the World Para Powerlifting Championships 2019. He was key to helping Aini improve her personal best by 16kg to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics.

(From left) Swimmers Yip Pin Xiu, Toh Wei Soong and Sophie Soon.
(From left) Swimmers Yip Pin Xiu, Toh Wei Soong and Sophie Soon. | Photos: Sport Singapore (Pin Xiu) and athletes’ own

SWIMMING

Yip Pin Xiu
Women’s 50m Backstroke - S2
Women’s 100m Backstroke - S2

Yip Pin Xiu is one of the best Paralympic swimmers in the world, Singapore's first Paralympic gold medallist, and current world record holder of the Women's 50m and 100m Backstroke S2 events. The champion swimmer born with Charcot-Marie Tooth (an inherited neuromuscular condition) is looking to defend her gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. 

Personal best:

  • Current World Record Holder for 50m Backstroke S2 and 100m Backstroke S2
  • 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, Gold (Women’s 50m Backstroke S2)
  • 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, Gold (Women’s 100m Backstroke S2)
  • 2016 Paralympic Games, Gold (Women’s 50m Backstroke S2)
  • 2016 Paralympic Games, Gold (Women’s 100m Backstroke S2)
  • 2008 Paralympic Games, Gold (Women’s 50m Backstroke S3)
  • 2008 Paralympic Games, Silver (Women's 50m Freestyle S3)

Toh Wei Soong
Men's 50m Freestyle - S7
Men's 50m Butterfly - S7
Men's 400m Freestyle - S7

Toh Wei Soong picked up swimming at 6 as a form of therapy, and later fell in love with being in water. Diagnosed with transverse myelitis (a disorder caused by the inflammation of the spinal cord), Wei Soong was the first para-athlete to win a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and won gold at the Singapore 2019 World Para Swimming World Series in the 100m Freestyle.

Personal best:

  • 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, Top 8 (Men’s 50m Butterfly S7)
  • 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, Top 8 (Men’s 50m Freestyle S7)
  • 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, Top 8 (Men’s 50m Butterfly S7)
  • 2018 Commonwealth Games, BRONZE (Men’s 50m Freestyle S7)
  • 2018 Asian Para Games, Gold (Men’s 50m Freestyle S7)
  • 2018 Asian Para Games, Gold (Men’s 100m Freestyle S7)
  • 2017 ASEAN Para Games, Gold (Men’s 50m Freestyle S7)
  • 2017 ASEAN Para Games, Gold (Men’s 100m Freestyle S7)

Sophie Soon Jin Wen
Women's 100m Breaststroke - SB12
Women's 100m Butterfly - S13

Sophie Soon won three gold medals at 2015 SPH National Para-Swimming Championships and represented Singapore at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games. This is her first Paralympics for Sophie, who was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy (a rare eye disorder).

She is also a Grade 8 violinist and performed with The Sam Willows at the 2014 President’s Star Charity Show.

Personal best:

  • 2018 Asian Para Games, Top 8 (Women 100m Breaststroke SB12)
  • 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, Top 8 (Women 100m Breaststroke SB12)
 (From left) Coaches Ang Peng Siong, Mark Chay (with Pin Xiu) and Roland Tan.
(From left) Coaches Ang Peng Siong, Mark Chay (with Pin Xiu) and Roland Tan. | Photos: Singapore Disability Sports Council (Ang Peng Siong and Roland Tan) and Sports News Agency (Mark Chay)

Coaches:

  • Ang Peng Siong: One of Singapore’s greatest athletes, the two-time Olympian was once the world number 1 in the 50m freestyle and has eight SEA Games golds from 1983 to 1993.
  • Michael Massey: Many see this coach as the reason for Singapore’s three medals at the Rio Paralympics won by Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh, ending the latter’s 17-year wait for a medal.
  • Mark Chay Jung Jun: He has competed in five SEA Games, two Asian Games, two Commonwealth Games, and two Olympics. The former national swimmer led Yip Pin Xiu to victory at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships.
  • Tan Joo Seng Roland: One of Singapore’s key para swimming coaches, Roland has helped to develop multiple para-athletes to qualify for major events.

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TAGS: Tokyo 2020 , Sports , Exceptional People , Local talent
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