Ferdous seeks support in world quest

Even with national service looming, Sheik Ferdous is not going to relax on his gruelling silat training regimen as he guns for a gold medal at next year's Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

But before he enlists on July 8, he added another gold to his collection when he defeated Vietnam's Pham Thanh Tam 4-1 in the Class I (85-90kg) final at last weekend's 2nd Asian Pencak Silat Championships held at Bedok Sports Hall.

Ferdous is the son of two-time silat world champion Sheik Alau'ddin. In a case of double elation, his younger brother Sheik Farhan also won gold after beating Akash Pathak from India 5-0 in the Class J (90-95kg) final.

Ferdous, 20, is now hoping his exploits can earn him a national service deferment so that he can focus on becoming a world champion.

He said: "Only those that are guaranteed to win gold are given deferment so I'm not sure how my application will turn out.

"Besides the SEA Games (August next year), other important championships (September's Asian Beach Games and December's World Championships) are coming up in the next few months and they are important for my preparations.

Sheik Ferdous won the Class I (85-90kg) title in the Asian Championships last weekend in Singapore after moving up four classes in less than a year. An NS deferment will aid his goal of becoming world champion.
Sheik Ferdous won the Class I (85-90kg) title in the Asian Championships last weekend in Singapore after moving up four classes in less than a year. An NS deferment will aid his goal of becoming world champion. ST FILE PHOTO

"I can only hope my gold medal will be proof of how far I've come, especially as it was my first time competing in that weight class and I won it at my first go. That gives me some confidence that I might be considered for deferment."

In a show of his dedication, Ferdous moved up four weight classes in less than a year, piling on 15kg in the process, on his father's advice that he stands a better chance of becoming a world champion in the heavier classes, which have fewer competitors.

Weighing 70kg during last June's SEA Games, he is now a hefty 85kg.

Ferdous said: "Around July last year, I started going to the gym five times a week and took supplements to bulk up. There were even times where I had to force myself to eat a lot and it was difficult at the start to keep up the routine.

"But my dad kept pushing me, and he was the one who told me to go up the weight classes. I just kept telling myself it would all be worth it and thankfully, I hit my target weight in April."

Sheik, who is also the Singapore Silat Federation's chief executive officer, hopes his son's medal-winning potential and hard work can impress the authorities sufficiently to process the deferment.

He said: "Ferdous sacrificed a lot in the last year and it'll be a real waste if he can't take part in the championships coming up in September and December. Those are good opportunities to develop his potential and he's doing well in the new weight class now."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Ferdous seeks support in world quest'. Print Edition | Subscribe