National silat exponent Nurshahrin Shahrudin, a bronze medallist at the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar, died yesterday morning in his Pasir Ris home.
According to the Singapore Silat Federation (Persisi), the 21-year-old full-time national serviceman passed away in his sleep.
Paramedics were called in after his sister failed to wake him up in the morning. His body was taken to the Singapore General Hospital for a post-mortem.
Nurshahrin's cousin and national team colleague Shakir Juanda, a former world champion, said the police have classified the case as unnatural death and are investigating.
Persisi chief executive officer Sheik Alau'ddin said: "Nurshahrin was a very talented silat exponent who contributed greatly to the sport. He was good in both the artistic form and sparring, and was always there for his team-mates.
"This is so sudden and a shock to everyone. It is a big loss to the silat community and our thoughts are with his family."
Sheik added that while Nurshahrin was not in the SEA Games squad owing to his national service commitments, the federation had earmarked him as a bright prospect, and had plans to support him to train full-time.
Said Sheik: "I've known him and his family since he was a boy. We had plans to work with him, to see how he could support Persisi. He's so talented, he could do (artistic) singles, doubles, team as well as fight (tarung).
"I will put his picture up in our Hall of Fame for all that he did for the sport."
It is believed that Nurshahrin, who also won a gold medal at the Asian Pencak Silat Championship in 2011 (Class D), was not suffering from any illness prior to his death.
He is the eldest of three children. His parents, Shahrudin Hashim and Noraini Cikni, are both silat instructors at club level.
The distraught parents declined to speak to the media yesterday.
At the SEA Games in 2013, he partnered Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alau'ddin to a bronze medal in the artistic men's doubles.
Shakir, who last saw his cousin over a month ago, said: "We were very close and he was always very cheerful and friendly.
"He was fit and a very talented silat exponent. It's hard to believe someone can go just like that.
"I just feel sorry for his family."