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."
In the women's team finals, Indonesia's team of Ida Ayu Putu Chandra Murtiadi, Luh Putu Eka Pratiwi and Ni Kadek Ratna Dewi won the gold with a score of 466. Singapore's trio of Nur Fazlin, Nur Shafiqa and Nurul Khairulnnisa scored 461 and pipped Vietnam to the silver.
Nguyen Thi Thuy, Nguyen Thi Thu Ha and Duong Thi Anh Nguyet scored a similar 461 but the Singaporeans were given a nod as their technical score of 263 was superior to Vietnam's score of 261.
Nur Shafiqa, 21, said: "Getting silver is a confidence booster for us for work towards a gold medal. We are definitely happy after improving from our bronze medal from the South-east Asian Championship (in April)."
Singapore's men's artistic doubles pair of Sheik Ferdous and Shakir Juanda were unable to improve from their South-east Asian Championship performance, clinching the Republic's second silat bronze on their opening day. The duo scored 467 points, behind Vietnam's Nguyen Danh Phuong and Dang Quoc Bao who scored 574 points to win silver and Indonesia's Hendy Hendy and Yolla Primadona Jampil, who won gold having scored 575 points.