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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Singapore silat aiming high for 2017 SEA Games

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SINGAPORE — It was a joyous affair at the Royal Plaza on Scotts Hotel as the Singapore Silat Federation (SSF) hosted a dinner for close to 30 guests to celebrate their athletes’ performances at last month’s World Pencak Silat Championships in Bali, which saw them take home two gold, one silver and eight bronze medals

But while last evening was a chance for the SSF and their athletes to deservedly revel in the achievements of last year, they will be back to the grind starting today, as they work towards reaching greater heights this year.

And SSF chief executive officer Sheik Alau’ddin is certainly aiming high. The two-time world champion has set his athletes the target of winning five gold medals at August’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore won just one gold at the 2015 SEA Games on home soil through Muhammad Nur Alfian, who won the Tanding Class F (75kg) event.

But Sheik Alau’ddin believes that the ingredients are ripe for the Republic’s silat exponents to secure their best-ever haul at the biennial meet this year. Singapore silat’s highest-ever SEA Games gold medal haul is three, achieved in 1999 and 2003.

Pointing to his athletes’ recent encouraging displays, as well as better support for the SSF — which includes a new training base at the OCBC Arena and access to various services at the Singapore Sports Institute — Sheik Alau’ddin told TODAY: “We have excellent support now, everyone’s working hard and on the right track, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t aim high.

“Also, our senior athletes like Shakir (Juanda), Sheik Farhan, Nur Alfian and (Nurul) Suhaila are now more mature and confident, so they should be looking to win gold.

“Therefore, I’m aiming for us to win three to five gold medals at this year’s SEA Games. It’ll be difficult, but if my athletes and the support staff work hard together, I’m sure we can achieve it.”

Indeed, the SSF are not wasting any time in preparing for their SEA Games quest. Sheik Alau’ddin revealed that the SSF’s four spexScholars — Muhammad Shakir Juanda, Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau’ddin, Muhammad Nur Alfian Juma’en and Nurul Suhaila M Saiful — will resume training today. The rest of the team will start on Jan 9.

“We don’t want to sit back and relax after our achievements at the World Championships,” declared Sheik Alau’ddin. “We want to achieve success at the SEA Games, and we’ve already lined up our programme with in-camp training and various tournaments leading up to KL.”

Last evening’s dinner, which was attended by Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, also saw the medal-winning athletes from the world championships receiving a certificate each in recognition of their achievements.

In addition, the gold medallists Sheik Farhan and Shakir each received S$2,000 in prize money and a commemorative plaque. The silver medallist Muhammad Iqbal Abdul Rahman took home S$500, while the bronze medal winners were awarded S$250.

All the prize money came from the SSF’s own coffers, but Sheik Alau’ddin said: “We hope that by doing this, it will motivate them to work harder. The athletes don’t get any money from being world champions, so the SSF decided to do this to show them that their achievements are valued and to support them as well.”

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