Nurul qualified for the Paralympics last December, becoming the first para-athlete to represent Singapore in that sport.
Born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2 (SMA II), Nurul’s condition causes nerve cell loss in her spinal cord which in turn limits muscle movement.
So instead of tossing, players in Nurul’s BC3 category use assistive devices to launch the balls.
The para-athlete uses a head pointer to launch the ball from a ramp, after directing an assistant on the position of the ramp.
Nurul is ranked world number eight in her category, which includes those with cerebral palsy or other locomotor dysfunctions.
“I’ve never been able to walk. As a child, I used to be very fumbly — if someone pats me on my back, I’d just fall over,” says Nurul over lunch which can be a chore as her hands aren’t strong enough to grip cutlery.
“My muscle degeneration is gradual. I used to be able to raise my right forearm until I was 17. When I was 22, I lost the ability to point with my left index finger. I can’t perform certain daily tasks independently, such as showering and dressing up,” says the 28 year old who moves around in a motorised wheelchair.
Yet, where her muscles lack strength, Nurul’s mind fully makes up for it.