People: Coach Muhamad Hosni

'Model athlete' Suhairi is a blessing to coach

Muhamad Hosni (left) says Suhairi Suhani is one of the few athletes he has coached to bargain for shorter breaks. The coach said, however, that the long jumper getting a job might stand in the way of him training full-time.
Muhamad Hosni (left) says Suhairi Suhani is one of the few athletes he has coached to bargain for shorter breaks. The coach said, however, that the long jumper getting a job might stand in the way of him training full-time.PHOTO COURTESY OF MUHAMAD HOSNI

Something troubled Singapore's Paralympic long jumper Suhairi Suhani throughout his journey from Rio de Janeiro back to Singapore.

"Why must it be three weeks, can we just do one week?" he asked repeatedly of his coach, former national sprinter Muhamad Hosni, during the trip home.

Usually, athletes bargain for longer breaks. Not Suhairi, the 19-year-old was bargaining for a shorter break from Hosni.

Yet, the coach was hardly surprised. Hosni recalls giving the intellectually-disabled para-athlete a break after the Asean Para Games in Singapore last December, only to catch Suhairi training on his own at Bishan Stadium.

He beamed as he told The Straits Times: "I've never met any athlete in my coaching career so dedicated, disciplined, willing to listen to everything I say.

FOCUSED ON GETTING BETTER

I just want to train and improve and I don't want to get lazy. I ask for workouts to do on my own until the coaches tell me when I can start training again.

SUHAIRI SUHANI, Paralympic long jumper, ever eager to get back to training.

"He's very much a model athlete. He loves what he's doing, never gets tired, never complains, never quits. He just wants to learn and keep improving.

"He's a blessing and a joy."

Suhairi completed his personal best jump of 6.69m - 27cm further than that of his 6.42m season's best - to finish eighth in the men's long jump T20 final.

A JOY TO COACH

He's very much a model athlete. He loves what he's doing, never gets tired, never complains, never quits. He just wants to learn and keep improving.

MUHAMAD HOSNI, Suhairi's coach, on the long jumper's dedication to his craft.

Suhairi, a Delta Senior School student who is also coached by former national middle-distance runner C. Veeramani, said: "I just want to train and improve and I don't want to get lazy. I ask for workouts to do on my own until the coaches tell me when I can start training again."

Having coached many able-bodied athletes and T20 (intellectually disabled) athletes, Hosni believes the T20 athletes can at times be superior in terms of how well they hone their techniques. He added that coaching the intellectually disabled can be challenging at times, as communication can be difficult.

He said: "You have to break down explanations. All the skills and techniques have to be done in small parts over and over again.

"It's like a jigsaw puzzle - the smaller the pieces, the more difficult, but when you put it together it's more of an accomplishment. It's really taught me patience and given me better appreciation."

Another obstacle looming for Hosni is Suhairi's imminent graduation this year - a period when he will lose most of his T20 athletes.

He said: "I'm sure he would stay longer in track and field, but how long depends on funding. I'm trying to do all I can to help him.

"Most of (the T20 athletes under his watch) end up working (in the food and beverage industry), and the long hours don't let them train. I'm losing a lot of athletes from that point onwards.

"Sport is a good way to relax and travel but when they graduate they need a job to earn money."

Despite all these obstacles, the former national 100m record holder persists because of the joys of coaching athletes like Suhairi.

"At the end of the day you look at him and you know that he really appreciates what you've done. You can see it in his smile on his face," said Hosni.

"It's such a joy that he appreciates you coaching him to make him the best he can be."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline ''Model athlete' Suhairi is a blessing to coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe