Sick of bronzes, Singapore silat team finally strike gold
Men's silat artistic team achieve breakthrough after two third-placed finishes
After third-placed finishes at the last SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 and the 18th World Pencak Silat Championship on home turf last year, Hamillatu Arash admits he was "sick of getting bronze" medals.
That made the lustre of his SEA Games gold medal shine that much brighter yesterday, as Hamillatu, Nazrul Kamal and Nujaid Hasif took top spot in the men's seni (artistic) regu team event at the Subic Bay Exhibit and Convention Center in the Philippines.
The Singaporean trio's routine scored 466 points, eight more than second-placed Thailand and 13 ahead of bronze medallists Malaysia. It is the Republic's first SEA Games gold in this event.
Hamillatu, 21, told The New Paper in a phone interview yesterday: "Speaking for the team, we're tired of getting the bronze, because we keep on getting bronzes or no medals (2018 Asian Games).
"We definitely wanted to change that, so we stepped up our game and our mindset and really pushed forward.
"We were sick of getting just bronze and wanted more than that."
Hamillatu and Nujaid are veterans of the last SEA Games while Nazrul is taking part in his first Games. The trio competed together at last year's Worlds and Asian Games - where they finished fifth.
Like Hamillatu, Nazrul will be enlisting for national service next year, and the 20-year-old said that going out on a high was another key motivational factor for the team.
Said Nazrul: "Coming into the competition, we knew this definitely would be our last Games together before NS... so it was quite meaningful to get the gold medal.
"During training, we kept motivating each other."
Nujaid - the baby of the team team at 19 - felt that these Games were more competitive than the last edition, based on the increased number of teams and the improved quality of opposition.
But he feels that the improved performance is down to the fact they were better prepared mentally and physically.
Said Nujaid: "Coming into this SEA Games, we felt a lot better, more mentally prepared, more physically prepared .
"We were very happy that we managed to bag the gold, especially since we feel that this year was more competitive than the previous SEA Games.
"We had more opponents this time, seven compared to five.
"Also, everyone was stronger and more synchronised than last time - so everyone's level was very close."
Singapore also bagged a silver in the men's seni tunggal singles event via Iqbal Abdul Rahman, despite the 26-year-old dislocating his shoulder during his three-minute artistic routine.
He finished with 461 points, nine behind gold medallist Tacuel Edmar of the Philippines and one ahead of Sulistianto Dino of Indonesia.
Iqbal told TNP that his shoulder dislocated while performing a slashing movement with a knife, but "fortunately it popped back in immediately by itself".
The result of an old injury incurred while training for the last Games, Iqbal said he felt the pain only after the adrenaline from his routine wore off.
He said: "During the routine itself, I didn't feel any pain. I felt the pain only when I walked out of the arena , then I realised it was very painful... Like a seven out of 10 in terms of pain."
Singapore Silat Federation chief Sheik Alau'ddin said he was happy with yesterday's haul, adding that he was targeting another gold from the tanding (sparring) events.
At the last SEA Games, Singapore's silat exponents won two golds, four silvers and and six bronzes from 19 events.
This time around, there are only nine events, the last of which ends on Friday.