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Aiming for glory

Brunei’s sporting stars gear up to make history and inspire the nation at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

As a country dedicated to advancing sports development and pursuing excellence, Brunei Darussalam aspires to achieve the highest standards of performance, particularly in prestigious competitions like the Asian Games and the Olympics.

The 19th Asian Games, taking place in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8 this year, is anticipated to showcase the finest athletic talents representing nations across Asia.

For some, this serves as the ultimate platform for elite athletes to harness their unmatched class and excellence, paving the way for them to compete against their world-class counterparts at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, France, next year as the reigning Asian champions.

Brunei Darussalam athletes and team officials arrive during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. PHOTO: AP

The multi-sport event was initially slated for September 10 to 25 last year but had to be rescheduled to this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This change in plans brings good news for international spectators, as China recently revealed that it has lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions starting August 30 this year.

Brunei has actively participated in the Asian Games, also known as the Asiad, since making its debut appearance in 1990. This year holds a special significance as Brunei returns to the host country where their journey in the Asian Games began, evoking a strong sense of nostalgia.

The Sultanate made its inaugural appearance at the Asian Games during the 1990 event held in Beijing, China, which was inaugurated by the late President Yang Shangkun.

In the country’s most recent participation in Jakarta and Palembang in 2018, Brunei fielded a team of eight male and seven female athletes across seven different sports.

These sports included athletics, equestrian, golf, karate, pencak silat, wushu, and weightlifting.

It took Brunei four years from their debut to secure their first medal, with Marliza binti Pengiran Omar winning a bronze in the women’s kumite under-60-kilogramme (kg) event in Hiroshima, Japan.

Brunei’s Meghan Loo also secured a bronze medal in the women’s kumite over-60kg category in the same competition. The national sepak takraw team added to their medal count with a bronze in the men’s regu event four years later in Bangkok.

The country’s last medal achievement prior to that was in Busan in 2002, when karate exponent Tong Kit Siong won a bronze in the men’s kumite under-75kg event.

Like numerous well-established and up-and-coming sporting nations, Brunei’s athletes aim to surpass expectations by achieving personal or national records when they compete.

This year, there is a significant cause for optimism, particularly in the realm of wushu, led by Brunei’s national wushu athlete, Mohd Adi Salihin bin Roslan.

He stands as the country’s greatest hope, being the most decorated Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) medallist of all time.

Brunei’s Mohammad Adi Salihin bin Roslan performs in the Wushu Men’s Nanquan competition for the 19th Asian Games. PHOTO: AP

Mohd Adi Salihin aims to etch his name in history by becoming the first athlete to secure gold medals in both the SEA Games and Asian Games. This ambitious pursuit is shared by fellow SEA Games gold medallists Hosea Wong Zheng Yu and Basma Lachkar, whose accolades include a gold medal at the World Games and a silver at the SEA Games.

Gold medallist China’s Tong Xin stands at the podium with silver medallist Brunei’s Basma Lachkar and bronze medallist Chen Suijin during awards ceremony for women’s taijijian wushu. PHOTO: AP

The Asian Games could serve as a pivotal stage for Brunei’s emerging talent, Lim Yee Sean, as she looks to build on her recent achievements.

She made history by securing Brunei’s first-ever medal at the 8th World Junior Wushu Championship last December.

Competing in a highly competitive international arena, this gifted teenager earned an impressive 9.06 points in Indonesia, clinching the bronze medal in the Girl’s Taichi Sword category.

In this year’s edition of the games, Brunei will be represented by 11 athletes competing across three sports: weightlifting, wushu, and karate.

The success of Brunei’s weightlifters in the Egat Princess’ Cup Weightlifting Championship in Mueang District, Thailand, has garnered significant attention.

As a result, national weightlifters Jurulena binti Juna and Muhammad Hadi Dinie bin Abdul Rahman have been selected to carry the country’s hopes in this discipline.

For karate, Muhd Harith bin Dahlan is set to represent Brunei following his impressive performance at the SEA Games, where he secured a bronze medal in the men’s kumite under-55kg event.

His remarkable debut in the regional competition included a 6-2 victory over Laotian opponent H Vongsidar in the repechage round.

Another rising star, Farhah Syahirah binti Mohd Shahrin, has earned her place in the national contingent.

She gained both national and regional recognition by winning the silver medal in the women’s individual kata event at the 20th Malaysia Games (Sukma) MSN 2022 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last year. – Fadhil Yunus

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