Silat duo carry Singapore’s hopes for gold
And then there were two.
From the six Singaporeans involved in yesterday's semi-final action at the World Pencak Silat Championships in Bali, only Shakir Juanda (Class I, 85-90kg) and Sheik Farhan (Class J, 90-95kg) advanced to their respective weight class finals, to be contested today.
The other four - Ridhwan Selamat (Class A, 45-50kg), Abdul Raaziq Abdul Rashid (Class F, 70-75kg), Alfian Juma'en (Class H, 80-85kg) and Nurhanishah Sharudin (women's Class C, 55-60kg) - all lost.
Singapore Silat Federation chief executive officer Sheik Alau'ddin has mixed emotions about the results, but said he expects nothing less than the gold from the two finalists.
"I'm disappointed in Raaziq, who would have made the final had he fought the same way he did in the quarter-final," said Sheik, a two-time former world champion.
"But I'm also happy with Alfian's efforts. He pushed through despite (a knee) injury and almost scored a takedown in the final round needed to win.
"I'm also proud of Nuhanishah, who suffered knee and ankle injuries but showed her fighting spirit the whole way.
"For Shakir and Farhan, it's simple - they both have to get gold. Period."
Sheik's two charges are vying to match his achievement. Shakir, 28, who won the Class I title at the 2012 World Championships in Chiang Rai, will face Indonesia's Firdhana Wahyu Putra.
Said Shakir: "I know it's going to be really tough fighting against an Indonesian on his homeground, but I'll give my best.
"There'll be no holding back, no hesitation from me. I'll go all out for the win.
"I know I'm just 15 or 20 minutes away from the gold medal.
"I just need to focus, compose myself and execute my gameplan, and let the Almighty do the rest."
Teenager Farhan, meanwhile, will face Vietnam's Mach Quoc Hung in a rematch of the final in Phuket almost two years ago, when the Singaporean triumphed.
"I'm feeling normal - not over confident, but not lacking it either," said the 19-year-old Nanyang Polytechnic student.
"I know I beat (Mach) before, but I'm taking it back to zero and focusing on myself ahead of the final. I'm not thinking about him at all."