SEA Games 2017

Like father, like son as Sheik Farhan wins gold

Sheik Farhan in action against Khairul Yaacob of Malaysia in yesterday's Tanding Class J silat final. He beat his opponent 5-0 to win his first Games gold. Nurzuhairah Yazid (below) dazzling in the women's artistic singles with a gold-winning display
Sheik Farhan in action against Khairul Yaacob of Malaysia in yesterday's Tanding Class J silat final. He beat his opponent 5-0 to win his first Games gold. PHOTOS: HUANG XIAOLONG/SPORT SINGAPORE
Sheik Farhan in action against Khairul Yaacob of Malaysia in yesterday's Tanding Class J silat final. He beat his opponent 5-0 to win his first Games gold. Nurzuhairah Yazid (below) dazzling in the women's artistic singles with a gold-winning display
Nurzuhairah Yazid (above) dazzling in the women's artistic singles with a gold-winning display in her debut Games.PHOTOS: HUANG XIAOLONG/SPORT SINGAPORE

As the bell sounded to signal the end of yesterday's Tanding Class J (90kg to 95kg) silat final and confirm his first SEA Games gold medal, Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau'ddin's impassive face remained unchanged.

Instead it was his father, the normally stoic Sheik Alau'ddin, who had been yelling words of encouragement throughout the match, who broke down in tears.

The reaction took even his 19-year-old son, who beat Malaysian Khairul Yaacob 5-0, by surprise. He said: "He doesn't get teary very often. We hugged after the fight and he said, 'I love you and thank you for the gold medal'."

Part of it was the pride at seeing his son follow in his footsteps - Sheik Alau'ddin won four Games titles and two world championships during his career - which left him emotional, the 49-year-old said afterwards.

"It's been difficult with a lot of decisions going against us. We had set ourselves a target of five golds and many of my favourites had lost.

"To finally get one from Farhan was a big deal. I can smile a bit now but am still not completely happy."

The Singapore Silat Federation chief executive reiterated he was disappointed with the level of officiating at the KL Games.

The gold haul doubled to two last night when Nurzuhairah Yazid bagged the women's artistic singles with a score of 463, ahead of Brunei's Noleyermah Haji Raya (455) and Indonesian Puspa Arumsari (447).

Nurzuhairah, who was making her Games debut at 19, said: "I can't believe I did it and my hard work has paid off. I don't even know what my score was."

There was no doubting who would prevail in Sheik Farhan's match. After landing every successful kick or while prowling the mat, he would raise his right hand and wag his index finger.

He wanted the panel of judges in charge of scoring, and everyone else inside the Juara Stadium, to know who was No. 1.

"Out there, it's not just you and your opponent," he told The Straits Times. "There's also the judges and you have to look confident, which is why I did the No. 1 sign. There's no room to be timid."

The irony is that the two-time world champion (2015 and 2016) is one of the most reserved members on the national silat team.

"It was hard to explain", he said. "During a fight, I don't feel nervousness or pressure. That gives me the calmness I need.

"I never want to show my opponent how I'm feeling. All I'm focused on is thinking about what to do next to make sure I win."

Capturing his first title at the biennial Games - where his father made his name - was special, Sheik Farhan said.

"He's the most influential person in my life. He always believed in me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'Like father, like son as Sheik Farhan wins gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe