National Silat team: Better facilities, same tough training
National silat exponents prepare for world championships at OCBC Arena instead of multi-purpose hall at Persisi HQ
The same gruelling training camp they are used to, but with a twist.
That's what Singapore's national silat exponents went through to get into top shape for the World Pencak Silat Championships, which begin tomorrow in Bali, Indonesia.
The 11-day training camp was held at the Singapore Silat Federation's (Persisi) new training base - the 1,600 sq m Hall Four of the OCBC Arena at the Sports Hub - instead of its headquarters in Bedok North.
That meant the athletes could sleep on comfortable beds at night, instead of mattresses laid out on a multi-purpose hall floor.
Alfian Juma'en, captain of the 23-strong team, said: "The intensity is still the same, but at least now we have something to look forward to after training."
The 20-year-old should know. During a recent training session, he exerted himself to the point he threw up.
But he gained little sympathy from local silat great Sheik Alau'ddin, who is Persisi's chief executive officer and also helps out with coaching the team.
The two-time former world champion is well known for his "tough love" approach towards his athletes.
"I told (Alfian) to take the mop, clean it up, and continue his training," said the 48-year-old Sheik.
"Only the environment is different. In terms of the intensity and our approach to training, everything else is the same as before."
On a typical day, the exponents wake up at 6.30am and sing the national anthem as a team, before embarking on the first of three training sessions, which are spread throughout the day.
In addition to the facilities at the Sports Hub, the athletes also have support from experts at the Singapore Sports Institute, as well as sports psychologists.
In Bali, four Singaporeans are hoping to clinch gold medals in the tanding (match) category.
Shakir Juanda, who won the Class H (80-85kg) title at the 2012 World Championships, has moved up one weight class, to Class I (85-90kg).
Taking his place in Class H is Alfian, who has moved up two weight classes. The Ngee Ann Polytechnic student has won consecutive South-east Asia (SEA) Games golds in Class F (70-75kg) in 2013 and 2015, but he has only a Class E (65-70kg) bronze from the 2012 World Championships to show for.
In Class J (90-95kg), Sheik Farhan - Sheik Alau'ddin's son - will be out to defend the title he won at the last World Championships, in Phuket, Thailand, last January.
In the women's division, Nurul Suhaila Mohd Saiful is hoping to go one better then her last outing, when she claimed silver in the women's Class D (60 to 65kg).
Shakir, 28, said he and his teammates are all geared up for glory. He said: "The support given to us has enhanced our training... and we want to do our best to repay it."