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Singapore Shooter

Photographer: Hwee Young How

 

Aishah Samad almost lost her life and had to amputate all four of her limbs due to a severe bacterial infection in 2012. For most people, especially sportsmen and women, that would mean the end of their professional lives and careers. But that has not stopped Singapore's former national shooter from picking up the rifle again. The 2003 bronze medalist in the South East Asia (SEA) games aims to return to her beloved sport and compete in the next Asian Para games or Paralympic games, thanks to her newly fitted bionic prosthetic arms and legs.

 

Through charity drives and the help of family and friends, the 42-year-old sportswoman managed to raise the $110,000 Singapore dollars (66,762 euros) for her to go to the Scottish city of Edinburgh, where she had new prosthetic arms fitted last year. She spent 12 days at the Touch Bionic Centre testing and training with her new bionic arms.

 

The new arms are operated by twitching the side of her arms against sensors inside the robotic limbs. There are 32 grip patterns in total that can be programmed through an iPhone app. They include pinching, turning, pointing, giving a good handshake and even one created by her for pulling the trigger of a gun. It took much time and effort to learn how to use the new arms though and she often had to take them off when sweat caused the heavy prosthetic limbs to slip and hurt her.

 

While the road to recovery and shooting has been slow and painful, the determined and cheerful mother-of-two grown sons took it all in her stride. She divides her time between exercising and training at an air rifle club and giving motivational talks to share her extraordinary life which has inspired many.

 

Everyday life is still a struggle for her though. Simple tasks like brushing her teeth still requires help from a domestic helper and her prosthetics hands are still not dexterous enough to handle forks and knives to feed herself. The resourceful former biker however insists on putting on her make-up herself by attaching brushes or lipstick with a velcro strip to her right arm. She also plays games and messages her friends using the velcro strap and stylus pen on her phone.

 

Says Aishah, “I am not disabled, I am just incomplete.”

 

She is still waiting for a personalized rifle to be shipped to her, sponsored by German arms manufacturer Walther. Meanwhile, she continues to train hard for her next goal, the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea.