SINGAPORE - Silat star Muhammad Shakir Juanda, 26, may have won the world championship title in 2012, but in his childhood days, he was an overweight child who was frequently bullied.
He stood at about 1.5m and weighed more than 70kg when he was in Primary 5, making him an easy target for his schoolmates.
He recalled: "I was shy and I never fought back. When my schoolmates bullied me and called me names, I would keep quiet, go home to cry and feel depressed."
But instead of wallowing, he took up silat at his neighbourhood mosque, which his late grandfather had introduced him to.
Today, the full-time athlete and captain of the national silat team credits the sport for instilling qualities such as perseverance and grit in him - important traits that turned his life around.
For his resilience and achievements in sports, Mr Shakir, along with four other young people, received the Singapore Youth Award at Victoria Concert Hall today.
Given by the National Youth Council, the award is the country's highest accolade for outstanding young people aged 35 and younger.
The other recipients are lawyer Josephus Tan, 35, scientist Chew Jia Wei, 33, multimedia artist Brian Gothong Tan, 34, and musician Yang Ji Wei, 33.
A student team from the National University of Singapore also received a team award for raising awareness on environmental issues.