A matter of pride

Fadhil Yunus

Brunei Darussalam’s national athletes have a crucial role to play in aiding the nation’s sporting progress through their participation in international meets vying for top honours and records.

The Sultanate has sent numerous athletes to competitions at regional and international levels over the years across a spectrum of sports. The show of support for their dedication and commitment may do well for their confidence and abilities.

Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a standstill in athletes continuing their career and gaining valuable experience, at least temporarily, owed to the postponement and cancellation of major sporting meets and competitions all around the world.

Events in the past two years have left athletes in a state of uncertainty following absence from participation in the international scene.

Regular training programmes and interactions with coaches were replaced by home training and online meetings following the closure of sports facilities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Whether they have been tested or are coming through an academy or talent identification programme, it is every athlete’s ambition to not only harness and apply their skills against international competitors but also to pursue triumph and glory while representing the country.

The various sporting associations play a part in producing and identifying talents that have the potential to represent the Sultanate.

While a consistent level of training remains an important component for selection, their ability and performances in local and national meets are the main indicators to represent the country in international meets.

Over the years, Brunei Darussalam has been represented on the world stage such including the World Athletics Championships organised by World Athletes, and the World Swimming Championships organised by the International Swimming Federation (FINA).

While providing international exposure is usually seen as the immediate aim of an association or the athletes’ selectors, they are also encouraged to win medals.

Like most countries, everyone associated with the sports community in Brunei Darussalam carries an ambition of delivering a strong result in a major competition and justifying the their hard work in trainings.

The tireless work that athletes carry behind the scenes would have seen a lot of commitment, sacrifices and the desire for mastering their movements across a range of disciplines, especially combat sports.

In late 2019, Brunei Darussalam’s national contingent produced their best away performance at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games hosted by the Philippines, after winning two gold, five silver and six bronze medals.

Such performances would have inspired them to achieve more success in subsequent tournaments against a more diverse field of opposition and an expanded list of countries.

Of all the sports that produced medallists, wushu was the one the nation was most decorated in, earning one gold, three silver and two medals with all representatives making a podium finish.

Buoyed by the promising work in the SEA Games, athletes may have turned their attentions towards future competitions next year such as the World Junior Championships and the Sukma Games.

Such interest is also shared by other martial sports such as pencak silat, with national talents continuing their preparations for tournaments on the world stage, especially the World Pencak Silat Championships.

The triumph in Manila did not only bring pride and captured the hearts of a nation, but has also helped reinvigorates the sporting spirit and belief of the country to succeed.

For some individuals, the SEA Games may have ushered in the beginning of a potentially long and storied career, and instant success by gaining a place on the podium would have no doubt put them in good stead.