Singapore silat shines in SEA Games dress rehearsal
Sheik Alau'ddin's charges return with four golds, six silvers and four bronzes from KL meet
Singapore's national silat exponents are shaping up nicely for August's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, if their recent performances are anything to go by.
At the SEA Pencak Silat Championships in KL last weekend, the team managed to win four gold, six silver, and four bronze medals.
The haul placed them third overall, behind hosts Malaysia (nine golds, three silvers, three bronzes) and Vietnam (five golds, five silvers, seven bronzes) in a competition which is considered a dry run for the Aug 19-31 SEA Games.
The showing also suggested there could be a marked improvement from the 2015 SEA Games on home soil, where Alfian Juma'en was the sole gold medallist.
But Persisi chief executive officer Sheik Alau'ddin was not exactly over the moon when he reflected on last week's action.
"Am I happy? Not really," he told The New Paper.
"Because I felt we should have won two more golds.
"In (Sheik) Ferdous and (Nurul) Syafiqah's finals... I think they (the jurors) shortchanged us.
"But it's an experience. Now I can see it'll be difficult in August."
Ferdous and Syafiqah both reached the finals of their respective weight classes, but were bested by Malaysian opponents.
But three other Singaporeans - Shakir Juanda (Class I, 85-90kg), Sheik Farhan (Class J, 90-95kg) and Nurul Suhaila (Class D, 60-65kg) - emerged triumphant in their finals.
The trio had also done well at the World Pencak Silat Championships in Bali last December.
Shakir and Farhan won their second world titles, while Suhaila, who was named best female exponent in KL, reached the semi-final where she lost to eventual champion Selly Andriani of Indonesia.
Nurzuhairah Yazid added a fourth gold in the artistic "Tunggal Putri" category.
Despite the obstacle of subjective juror scoring, Sheik is still targeting a strong medal return at the SEA Games.
"I'm looking at five gold medals, with four in the match category," said the 49-year-old local silat great.
"Don't forget, we also have Alfian. He came back with a silver not because he lost his final, but because I pulled him out.
"He had a fever and is still nursing a leg injury, so I felt it was more important for him to be ready for the SEA Games.
"If everything goes to plan and our fighters stay clear of injuries, we can achieve our target."