Thursday, June 1, 2023
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In the SEA of competition

Fadhil Yunus

As the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) drew to a close following nearly two weeks of sporting drama and fever, it is worth noting the achievements of the Brunei Darussalam national contingent, particularly in wushu.

Brunei’s unique strengths in traditional martial arts were further highlighted following a flurry of medals in karate and pencak silat.

The country’s most decorated athlete in the SEA Games, Mohamad Adi Salihin bin Roslan, won gold in the men’s nanquan event after accumulating 9.636 points at the Chroy Changvar Convention Centre.

With this triumph, there is no argument that he stands alone as the Sultanate’s most successful sportsperson in history with three gold medals under his belt.

He repeated the feat he achieved in Manila, the Philippines in 2019 and Vietnam last year, and he still has a few good years ahead of him to add even more to his impressive haul.

There is no national athlete in history who has won gold in three consecutive appearances at the SEA Games, let alone any multi-sport event held globally.

Performers take part in the closing ceremony of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games at the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. PHOTO: AFP
Members of the Brunei contingent in a group photo. PHOTO: SECRETARIAT

Under the guidance of his coach Li Hui, Mohamad Adi Salihin excelled in the sport with distinction and further demonstrated Brunei’s qualities in wushu.

Mohamad Adi Salihin is not the only athlete who has the natural ability to perform at a high stage as prestigious as the SEA Games.

Hosea Wong Zheng Yu announced his arrival on the regional stage after claiming silver in the men’s taijiquan and bronze in the men’s taijijian during the 30th SEA Games in Manila, the Philippines.

He has gone on to cement his name alongside the greats in SEA Games folklore after winning gold in the combined men’s taijijian and taijiquan events.

He upset his closest rival Singapore’s Tay Yu Xuan whom he had known from his Asian Junior Championships days. The field also comprised defending champion Malaysia’s Tan Zhi Yan, whose hopes of defending his title which he won in Vietnam last year, were extinguished.

Hosea became the latest in the line of gold medallists that Brunei Darussalam has produced.

National wushu athlete Basma Lachkar was in contention for a gold medal in the combined women’s taijiquan and taijijian event before eventually taking bronze.

The double silver SEA Games medallist had previously pushed for a gold to complete a full circle which was all began during the 30th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia six years ago. As a then-15 year-old, Basma won the nation’s hearts as the youngest medallist the country has ever seen when she clinched silver.

Still only 21 and with a long career ahead of her, she has also added a gold medal at the World Games in Birmingham, the United States to her impressive resume.

Brunei also enjoyed success in the men’s duilian event when the duo of Majdurano Joel Majallah Sain and Abel Lim Wee Yuan scooped silver.

Another sport that has never ceased to impress is pencak silat. The country has consistently produced a string of medallists at the SEA Games.

The country enjoyed a rise in the sport after male athlete Khairul Bahrin Duraman won a historic gold medal in the men’s artistic singles in Laos in 2009.

Brunei’s talents should not be left unnoticed as Norleyermah binti Haji Raya added yet another silver medal to her growing collection. The experienced athlete came close to triumph on numerous occasions having won four silvers and two bronzes in both the individual and team events.

Recently, she also formed a partnership with Nur Wasiqah Aziemah binti Rosihan and Anisah Najihah binti Abdullah in the women’s artistic team event. The trio won two silver medals in Vietnam and Phnom Penh to contribute to the development of wushu in the country.

In addition, the men’s team contributed to the medal haul after the trio of Mohd Hazim Ramliee, Muhd Hazim Aqwa bin Md Iman Safwan and Muhd Ali Saifullah Abdullah Md Suhaimi bagged bronze.

Karate also unearthed a new star as Muhd Harith bin Dahlan became the latest exponent to come home with a medal following his bronze win in the men’s kumite under-55 kilogramme (kg) event.

Muhd Harith became the nation’s last representative to win a medal in karate since Mohd Sofian Muhd Sufizan took bronze in the men’s kumite under-67kg event in Manila in 2019.

His compatriot Md Izzudin Irfan bin Md Faizal also won a bronze medal in the above-84kg event.

Meanwhile, the national badminton team bagged bronze by virtue of reaching the semi-finals, having been awarded a bye in the first round of matches.

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