Hj Md Khairul collects first gold for Brunei
AFTER winning their first gold at the 25th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Brunei will try to move closer to winning two more gold medals in pencak silat today at the Lao International Trade and Exibition Centre here.
Amirul Ahat, a first-timer at the SEA Games but a veteran of seven international tournaments, takes on Okhe Botsavang of Laos in the semi-finals of the men's Class A 45kg-50kg division.
A victory for Amirul will set him up against the winner between Thailand's Niphon Jantaro and Malaysia's Mohd Hafiz Mahari.
Amirul, silver medallist in both the 2008 Asian Beach Games and 2009 Asian Martial Arts Championships, hopes to get past the Laotian and meet Niphon in the final.
"I wish to meet Niphon so I can avenge my two losses," said the 22-year-old Amirul, who lost 3-2 in the Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia, and 5-0 in the Asian Martial Arts Championships in Bangkok.
But Niphon is also expected to face a strong challenge from Mohd Hafiz, who won the gold medal in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) in Terangganu last year. The Malaysian was a bronze winner in Bali and the Malaysian Open.
Brunei's other medal contender is Freddy Ashrol Choo, who will battle Muhamad Shakir Juanda of Singapore in the men's Class G 75kg-80kg category.
The winner between Freddy and Muhamad Shakir will face Vietnam's Vu The Hoang, who got an outright berth in the championship round.
The Sultanate grabbed their first gold Sunday night courtesy of pencak silat exponent Hj Md Khairul Bahrin Hj Duraman in the men's tunggal event.
Hj Md Khairul scored 473 points while Thailand's Sarawut Comepoon earned 447 points to grab silver. Youthiisinh Phout Thalaksa of Laos won the bronze medal with 432 points.
"I was expecting to win the gold medal because the two other competitors are newcomers," said the 25-year-old Hj Md Khairul, who won the bronze medal in the 2003 Vietnam SEA Games.
It took Hj Md Khairul 10 years as a member of the national team to finally achieve his dream.
"I'm so happy to win my first gold medal and I'm also proud to win Brunei's first gold here at the SEA Games," said Hj Md Khairul, whose best achievement in international tournaments were bronze finishes at the 2008 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam and 2009 Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia.
"I've been waiting so long for this moment and I hope I can win more medals and bring more honour to my country."
While Hj Md Khairul was high-spirited for his gold victory, Norleyermah Hj Raya was disappointed with her failure to land on the podium.
"I'm very upset," said Norleyermah, who finished sixth among seven entries in the women's tunggal event after getting 419 points from the panel of judges.
Singapore's Rabiatul Adawiyah Yuak got 471 points for the gold while Vietnam's Vu Thi Thao won silver with 453 points. The bronze medal went to Indonesia's Nih Lu Putu Spyanawati, who earned 443 points.
Malaysia's Suzy Mohd Sulaiman, a gold medallist in the 2007 World Championships, finished fourth with 439 points followed by newcomer Souk Sakhon Chanthilath of Laos at fifth with 423 points.
Except for Norleyermah's unexpected loss, team manager Pg Hj Jufry Pg Hj Jaludin and coach Suhartono were both happy with the performance of the pencak silat team.
"Our goal is to improve our medal performance in Korat two years ago," said Pg Hj Jufry. "We 're happy to win the gold and hopefully, we can bring home more medals."
Suhartono commended the efforts of his athletes. "We spent more than one year to prepare for this SEA Games and our objective is to win medals. My athletes have won medals at international tournaments before coming here in Laos so they are ready for battle. I'm proud of them because they give their best in every fight."
Asked to comment on Norleyermah, Pg Hj Jufry said: "She did her best and, in my opinion, she should have won a medal."
Meanwhile, Khuzaiman Ahmad lost to Thailand's Chaiwat Nimma 0-5 in the semi-finals of the men's Class D 60kg-65kg division.
Chaiwat will face M Sodik in the final after the Indonesian scored a 4-1 victory over Singapore's Mohamad Saifullah Mohamed Julaimi in the other semi-final match.
"I'm disappointed to lose," said the 21-year-old Khuzaiman, who also lost to Chaiwat in the semi-final of the Asian Martial Arts Championships in Bangkok last August. "I was hoping to get back at him but he beat me again," added Khuzaiman, who is assured of the bronze for reaching the semi-final round.
Brunei's Md Kifli Hj Hamzah also failed to advance to the men's Class E 65kg-70kg quarter-finals after absorbing a 0-5 setback to Indonesia's I Komang Wahyu Purbayasari.
Aside from pencak silat, also scheduled today are the nine-ball singles events with His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, and Teo Chee Soon playing at 10am at the Don Chan Palace Convention Hall.
HRH Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah meets Phopadid Vongsombun of Laos in the upper half of the draw while Teo faces Dennis Orcollo in the lower half.The Brunei Times