SINGAPORE - He came into the competition as the crowd favourite after winning gold in April's South-east Asian Championships.
But Singapore silat exponent Muhammad Iqbal, 20, failed to replicate his results in the men's artistic singles (Tunggal) category at the SEA Games on Wednesday.
He had to settle for the bronze with a score of 462, behind Vietnam's Hoang Quang Trung and Indonesia's Sugianto, who tied on 464. Hoang eventually secured the gold with a better score of 293 in technical merits.
Despite his disappointment, Iqbal drew optimism from his performance. He said: "I came in fifth in my first SEA Games, fourth in my second Games and now I've won my first medal after being third in my third Games.
"It is my best performance so far, especially with the home support. I am satisfied with my progressive improvement.
"I might not have gotten the gold medal which was expected of me but I felt that nothing went wrong during my performance."
Iqbal was not the only one surprised, with Vietnam's Hoang admitting that his result was unexpected.
Hoang Quang Trung, 26, said: "Indonesia and Singapore are really good and I was nervous until the results were out. But I am very happy to win gold, especially after getting silver in the the 2011 SEA Games."