National Games: Spotlight falls on future stars

Fadhil Yunus

The Brunei Darussalam National Games (SKBD) has been widely known as the most highly anticipated multi-sport event in the national sporting calendar, attracting both the current elite athletes in the country and where stars are born.

It is a national high-level sports tournament where the society plays a key role in the development of sports in the country.

Days of sporting drama and excitement will be met with newly minted champions who burst into the scene as the country’s latest talent, which in turn boost their chances of selection for a major international event.

The contingents include representatives from all four districts, uniformed personnel, education institutions, members of the private sector and the Brunei Darussalam Sports School Council (MSSBD). The multi-sport festival serves as a platform to select qualified athletes to represent the country in both the regional and international level towards building and advancing the level of local athletes. Known as the National Sports Festival in the 1980s, the SKBD has successfully hosted sporting activities which helped establish it as a national event.

The establishment of the SKBD also encouraged several local sports associations to be more active in organising sports programmes leading to a number of potential sports talents as well as committed sports leaders and ambassadors. Athletes will enliven the multi-sport showpiece through its mass participation and raise the profile of the country’s sports.

File photo shows Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Iswandy bin Ahmad in a group photo with wushu medallists from the 2018 edition of the Brunei Darussalam National Games. PHOTO: JAMES KON

While leading athletes are expected to add another medal to their collection, potential medallists could be transformed into winners if they deliver success in the national stage.

A podium finish could be the start of something special in their sports career with the possibility of selection for regional or international events.

For traditional events such as athletics and swimming, there are also opportunities to win national records, especially those that have been preserved for decades. The fourth edition of the SKBD in September 2018 represented the most recent instalment which involved 3,556 people including athletes, officials and coaches as well as 12 contingents.

Thirty-one sports were contested in accordance to the rules and regulations passed by the associations and federations of national sports.

Meanwhile, 937 medals were up for grabs comprising 281 gold medals, 281 silver medals and 375 bronze medals. The SKBD has grown in popularity and participation in recent years from a modest eight sports and 153 medals contested during the 2017 edition.

A total of 1,550 participants were also involved that year.

It also provided an opportunity for contingents to shine in the domestic event evident with the heroics of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB) in the boat racing event.

The Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council produced a clean sweep of gold medals in the 10-rower 500m and 800m events and 20-rower 500m and 800m events at the Serasa Water Sports Complex.

Team Manager Junaidi Duraman heaped praise on the rowers after their impressive performance.

“The performances from the MS ABDB boat race teams were very satisfying. We are proud with the success of winning four categories which was what we hoped for,” he said.

The army representatives fought off fierce competition from the Royal Brunei Police Force Sports Council (MS PDB) and the Brunei-Muara District.

The 2018 edition also witnessed a fair share of shocks with a futsal clash between the Brunei Association of Banks (BAB) and the Belait District a classic tale of underdogs proving giant-killers at the expense of the favourites.

The BAB produced an upset with a 1-0 victory over the much-fancied Belait District, one of the teams tipped for a gold medal, 1-0 at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex.