Silat star Alfian battles his way to gold
He is one of eight for Singapore at Asian meet
Alfian Juma'en just cannot seem to do things the easy way.
A year ago, the silat exponent won a South-east Asia Games gold medal at the Singapore Expo after beating Vietnam's reigning world champion Tran Dinh Nam, despite suffering a deep cut on his left foot midway through the match.
Yesterday, at the Asian Pencak Silat Championships at the Bedok Sports Hall, the 19-year-old had to suffer again for his win.
Twice struck illegally in the face by Nguyen Duy Tuyen, his opponent in the men's class G (75-80kg) final from Vietnam, Alfian had to receive treatment during the bout.
But he eventually pulled through, dumping his opponent to the mat twice in the third and final round, to secure a 4-1 victory.
Sporting a bruised right temple and busted lower lip after the medal ceremony, Alfian quipped: "Some days you get bad (matches), some days you get good.
"He (Nguyen) is good friends with me anyway, so it's all good."
Alfian won one of eight gold medals for Singapore at the championships, helping them finish second in the overall standings.
Vietnam, with 13 golds, finished top of the pile among 12 participating Asian nations that included Iran, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and South Korea.
Four of the hosts' other golds yesterday came in the "tanding" (match) category, from Yudhi Purwadhono (men's Open), Nurul Suhaila (women's class D (60-65kg) and two of silat great Sheik Ala'uddin's sons, Sheik Farhan (class J (90-95kg) and Sheik Ferdous (class I (85-90).
In the artistic categories, Iqbal Abdul Rahman (men's individual), the duo of Hamillatu Arash and Haziq Zainal Abidin (men's doubles) and the trio of Hamillatu, Haziq and Irham Mustafa Kamal (men's regu) triumphed.
TNP PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
At the last Asian Championships in 2011, Singapore also finished second behind Vietnam, but won only five golds.
Sheik Alau'ddin, who is the Singapore Silat Federation's chief executive officer, was buoyed by the improvement, but warned his athletes there is no time for slacking off, even though the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins today.
"When you organise a big meet like this in Singapore, our athletes' mindset is different," he said.
"So it's satisfying... But, after a few days of rest, we'll start training full swing again on Thursday.
"The World Championships are at the end of the year and we have to train even harder now for them."
At the last World Championships in Phuket, Thailand, in January 2015, Singapore had only one gold in Sheik Farhan's class J victory category.
Sheik senior's words seem to have got through to his athletes.
"This kind of performance gives us a good boost," said Alfian, who also won gold at the 2013 SEA Games.
"But we can't let it get to our head."
Added the 20-year-old Ferdous: "Today's win has definitely given me confidence, especially considering it's my first time competing in class I, going up (four weight classes) from class E (65-70kg).
"Hopefully, I can keep going until the World championships and win gold."