Nothing could keep Singaporean rower from her Olympic dreams

If there is anyone who knows what it is like to struggle in order to reach one's dreams, that person would be Saiyidah Aisyah.

Luckily for her, she feels the struggle is the best part.

Earlier this year, the 28-year-old achieved the monumental feat of becoming the first rower to represent Singapore at the Olympic Games.

It was the culmination of a journey that involved both physical and financial sacrifices.

Determined to qualify for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Saiyidah thought her best chance was to take part of rigorous training in Sydney, Australia.

Having initially failed to secure financial support through Team Singapore's Sports Excellence Scholarship, she relied on her savings and even turned to crowdfunding in a bid to reach her goal.

In a poignant turn of events, her mother, who she revealed was never the biggest supporter of her sporting dream, even offered to sell the house in order to raise funds.

Thankfully, that was not necessary as Saiyidah managed to raise over SG$13,000 and was able to move to Sydney last August to begin training full time, taking no-pay leave from her job in the process.

Eventually, she received her scholarship in March. With her financial worries abated, the only thing left to do was to put in the hard work in search of securing that spot in Brazil.

For someone who knows what it is like just to struggle for the opportunity to realise her dreams, Saiyidah was never going to let it slip out of her grasp. She punched her ticket to Rio in April with her performance at a regional Olympic qualifying meet.

In August, her wait was finally over as she became the first Singaporean rower to compete at the Olympics. She did well enough to finish in a respectable 23rd place out of 32 women in the single sculls event.

Rather than just focus on the accolade from an individual perspective, Saiyidah hopes her sacrifices will also be beneficial for the greater good.

Even before the Games had taken place, she spoke of wanting to be at the forefront of women's sport in Singapore and encouraging others -- especially women -- to chase their goals.

With her Olympic dream fulfilled, what next?

Saiyidah has since returned to Sydney to resume training and has set her sights on next September's Asian Rowing Championships in Jiashan, China, with the new goal of becoming the best in the continent.

There are bound to be plenty of ups and downs along the way, but Saiyidah has already shown she has what it takes to overcome any obstacles thrown her way.