Keeping the flag flying

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam has been actively involved in regional and international sporting competitions in their quest to gain a foothold and recognition in both continental and world stage.

While the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Asian Games, Olympics, Commonwealth Games and the World Championships for certain sports as well as the Asean Para Games come to mind, one of the pancontinental meets that Brunei shows firm interest in is the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG).

Previously known as the Asian Indoor Games and the Asian Martial Arts Games, the multi-sport competition was merged into AIMAG in 2013. Organised by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games – known as AIMAG for short – has been described as the second largest multi-sport competition in Asia, after the Asian Games.

Since joining the competition for the first time at the Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam in 2009, Brunei has managed an overall haul of two silver and eight bronze medals, with the majority coming from pencak silat. Brunei made an instant mark at the multi-sport competition when they brought back home a collection of medals during their Asian Indoor Games debut.

It was one of the Sultanate’s finest achievements in the international arena, especially considering the fact that a majority of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) members featured in the competition.

Brunei Darussalam’s Norleyermah binti Haji Raya won silver in the Asian Indoor Games in 2009

The diversity and uniqueness of the AIMAG was further showcased as member countries recognised by the Oceania National Olympic Committees also took part.

Brunei’s pencak silat trio of Norleyermah binti Haji Raya, Nurul Aimi Amalina Zanidi and Norleyharyanti binti Haji Raya cemented their places in the country’s sporting history after they bagged silver in the women’s artistic regu event.

During this period, the country enjoyed considerable success in pencak silat complimented by five other bronze medals in various categories. With the national pencak silat team eager to bring back medals, Md Khairul Bahrin Durahman did not disappoint as he walked away with a bronze medal in the men’s artistic singles event.

Brunei was also a force in the tanding events with Khuzaiman Ahmad, Pengiran Khairul Bahri bin Pengiran Ali Umar, Freddy Ashrul Choo and Siti Zuliza Omar all securing bronze.

The country’s other bronze during the competition came in wushu through the duo of Faustina Woo and Lee Ying Shi in the duilian weapons event.

Brunei’s athletes continued their fine form in pencak silat when Bangkok hosted the Asian Martial Arts Games in the same year.

The best-ever result during that competition came from Amirul Ahat after he won silver in the Class A (45-50kg) tanding event. His achievement emulated the heroics made by the women’s trio team during the previous edition, continuing the country’s proud record at the pancontinental meet.

Amirul’s compatriots also contributed to the medal tally with Khuzaiman and Pengiran Khairul Bahri winning their second consecutive bronze following his heroics in the Asian Indoor Games. The country also sent a karate team in the Asian Martial Arts Games with Mohd Fida’iy bin Haji Sanif, Haji Eddie Jofriani bin Haji Johari where they gained experience.

Brunei was represented in short distance swimming and cue sports in the 2013 instalment in Incheon, South Korea with Ahmad Taufiq Murni and Anderson Lim, taking part respectively. Ahmad Taufiq was denied a historic bronze in the nine-ball singles event after he was stopped by China’s Li Hewen in the quarterfinals. A berth in the semi-finals would have guaranteed him bronze and end the country’s wait for a medal in cue sports at a major competition.

Nevertheless, Ahmad Taufiq ran deep in the competition after navigating his way from the round of 32.

The national cueist had another shot in the next edition of the competition in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan but his journey ended abruptly in the round of 32.

Recently, Thailand won the rights to host the next edition of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games next year following an announcement by the Olympic Council of Asia. This next edition of the Games will feature 24 sports with netball, floorball and e-sports expected to make their debut.