Ex-shooter lost her limbs but aims for 2016 games

Ex-shooter lost her limbs but aims for 2016 games
Ms Aishah Samad, former national shooter who lost all her limbs to a bacterial infection in 2012, is seen here, practising with a toy gun at her home. She got fitted with a pair of prosthetic arms and hopes to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games.

SINGAPORE - With her newly fitted prosthetic arms, former national shooter Aishah Samad is ready to get back to business.

She hopes to start serious training by the end of the year and aims to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Currently, she practises with a toy gun to get the feel of pulling a trigger with the fingers of her prosthetic hand.

"You can't use too much or too little force," she explained. "It has to be just right to keep the rifle stable and on target."

Ms Aishah's limbs were amputated following an aggressive bacterial infection last year. While she received her prosthetic legs soon after her operation, she had to spend a year raising funds to get her new arms and hands.

The 41-year-old mother of two flew to Scotland last month to get them fitted. They are so advanced that their movements can be controlled with an iPhone app.

"I can do facials on my own now," Ms Aishah said. "Previously, with my stumps, my grip was unstable."

She has had her hands for only two weeks and is still getting used to them. During mealtimes, she prefers not to use her prosthetic arms because she "would still be eating after everyone else has finished".

"Progress is very slow," she said. "But everything new is difficult. You just have to have patience."

Going back to competitive shooting, however, will involve more than just getting used to her prosthetic hands.

The former South-east Asia Games bronze medallist is currently awaiting a reply from German arms manufacturer Walther as to whether she will be able to get sponsorship for her weapon, bullets and other gear. "I love shooting," she said. "I love the smell of gunpowder. It's my passion but it's an expensive sport."

Each bullet costs around 30 cents and she can use more than 200 in a training session.

Ms Aishah's new left forearm bears a tattoo-like butterfly design and she is planning to get similar art done on her prosthetic legs as well.

"I used to be very boyish," she admitted. "I don't know why, but I'm more into butterflies right now. They're beautiful but fragile. Regardless of how fragile my body is now, I am still cheerful."

linettel@sph.com.sg

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