A silat world title for Iqbal, finally
Training twice a day, he finally wins title as two other S'poreans also bag gold
After suffering a heartbreaking loss in the final two years ago, Singapore's Iqbal Abdul Rahman vowed to train harder and smarter.
After all, he had just tried and failed to land a title at the World Pencak Silat Championship. For the fourth time.
But he knew that to be crowned the best in the business, he would have to overcome one of his heroes - Indonesia's Sugianto Sugianto, the man who beat him that day and who went on to become the Asian Games champion this year.
So he slogged. And so confident was Iqbal, 25, in his preparations that he was even relishing competing against Sugianto again. Unfortunately, he did not get his wish.
He did, however, claim the men's artistic single title on the opening day of the 18th World Pencak Silat Championship at the OCBC Arena.
He scored 467 points to finish ahead of Thailand's Ilyas Sadara (457 points), the Asian Games silver medallist, and Indonesian Dino Bima S. (453).
"After the silver in 2016, I told myself that I have to beat this guy (Sugianto)," he told The Straits Times.
"He's a very good athlete and I look up to him, so I told myself I have to train harder and better. Unfortunately, he didn't compete here; I wanted him to come."
This year, I got to train twice a day every single day and I had top-notch support.S'pore's Iqbal Abdul Rahman, after winning gold in the men's artistic single event at the World Pencak Silat Championships
Iqbal, whose previous best result at the World Championship was one silver each in 2015 and 2016, believes receiving the Sports Excellence (spex) scholarship this year after completing his national service helped his preparations.
A new training programme that focused more on improving match fitness boosted his confidence even before he stepped into the arena.
"This year, I got to train twice a day every single day and I had top-notch support... I managed to push myself even in the arena and I felt really confident," he said.
Iqbal was not the only Singaporean to win a first world title yesterday. Nurzuhairah Yazid (women's artistic single) and the women's artistic doubles pair of Nur Azlyana Ismail and Nurhanishah Shahrudin added two golds to Singapore's tally.
The Republic also clinched two silvers (men's artistic double and women's artistic team) and one bronze (men's artistic team). The free-entry event ends on Sunday.