A springboard to more success

Singapore's Sheik Farhan celebrated his 21st birthday with a gold medal after beating Vietnam's Pham Khac Truong in the Class J (90-95kg) final at the OCBC Arena yesterday.
Singapore's Sheik Farhan celebrated his 21st birthday with a gold medal after beating Vietnam's Pham Khac Truong in the Class J (90-95kg) final at the OCBC Arena yesterday. PHOTOS: SINGAPORE SILAT FEDERATION
Hazim Yusli won a gold medal in Class B (50-55kg). This is his first time competing in the senior World Championship.
Hazim Yusli won a gold medal in Class B (50-55kg). This is his first time competing in the senior World Championship.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE SILAT FEDERATION

Historic seven-gold show at silat world c'ship bodes well for Republic at 2019 SEA Games

Singapore's silat exponents saved their best for last when they won four gold medals on the last day of the 18th World Pencak Silat Championship yesterday.

That brought their haul to seven golds, surpassing the six-gold target set by Singapore Silat Federation (Persisi) chief Sheik Alau'ddin.

After getting off to a superb start with three gold medals in the artistic discipline of the sport on Thursday, eight Singaporeans were in action at the OCBC Arena yesterday, with four of them - Sheik Farhan, Sheik Ferdous, Nurul Suhaila Mohd Saiful and Hazim Yusli - striking gold.

The haul of seven golds, six silvers and seven bronzes is Singapore's best showing at the event that is the pinnacle of the sport, and augurs well for the Republic's chances at next year's SEA Games in the Philippines.

It was extra special for newly minted three-time world champion Farhan, who beat Vietnam's Pham Khac Truong in the Class J (90-95kg) final to win gold on his 21st birthday.

Rather than bask in his glory, he was delighted that his teammates are finally getting the exposure he believes they deserve.

"The first time I won gold at the World Championship, I was alone," Farhan said after receiving his medal.

TEAM SPIRIT

This is the best team I've ever been in, and I'm proud of every one of them, even those who didn't win fought their hearts out.

SHEIK FARHAN, newly minted three-time world champion, expressing his delight that his teammates are finally getting the exposure he believes they deserve.

"But, when I won that match just now, Singapore had already won five medals (in total), and it was a great feeling.

"We've all trained hard, and my teammates deserve much more exposure than they are getting.

"We've waited so long for this and I'm so glad that they are now also getting exposure - they really deserve it.

"This is the best team I've ever been in, and I'm proud of every one of them, even those who didn't win fought their hearts out."

Hazim also struck gold in Class B (50-55kg) while Ferdous triumphed in Class I (85-90kg). And the wait is finally over for Suhaila, who became a world champion after failing to strike gold in three previous editions of the competition.

"The last few years of losing at major competitions have pushed me to my limits and I'm grateful to all the support from my coaches, teammates and those at Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) - they never gave up on me," said the 23-year-old.

She recalled looking at the clock in the final 10 seconds of her bout against Thailand's Janejira Wankrue in the Class D (60-65kg) final, and the sheer elation when the seconds ran down.

"That last second of the fight was unforgettable," she said.

"I will never forget this. I'm a different fighter now and, with this win, I'm more confident, too."

She believes her "amazing" team can only get stronger from here.

"We've been getting more support from SportSG and SSI, and there has been more recognition from the public, too. There is great spirit in this team, and I'm certain we'll go on to achieve more after this," added Suhaila.

Farhan, who will enlist for national service in the next few months, shared similar confidence, as the team look forward to next year's SEA Games in the Philippines.

"The hard part is maintaining your spot at the top but, after winning gold at the 2017 SEA Games and my second gold at the World Championship, this (third medal) means I'm on the right track," said Farhan, who vowed to commit as much time as he can to training despite his NS obligations.

"I just have to win every competition that I enter in."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'A springboard to more success'. Print Edition | Subscribe