SINGAPORE - Barely a week after a triumphant outing at the SEA Games in Hanoi, the national pencak silat squad were dealt a heavy blow with the sudden passing of coach Mochammad Ichsan Nur Romadhon.
The Indonesian died early on Saturday (May 28) in a road accident in Bali, where he was on holiday with his family following the Games' conclusion on Monday.
A former national athlete for Indonesia, Mr Romadhon was 34. He is survived by a wife and two young daughters.
He had been employed by the Singapore Silat Federation (Persisi) for eight years and was one of four coaches in charge of Singapore's tanding (match) athletes in Hanoi, where he helped guide them to three gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
The silat squad returned from Vietnam with a total haul of four golds, three silvers and four bronzes, their best-ever showing at the biennial multi-sport affair.
Persisi chief executive officer Sheik Alau'ddin told The Straits Times that Mr Romadhon's passing was a "big loss".
"Even though he was from Indonesia, he gave all his heart to us and went through ups and downs together with Singapore silat through the years. Losing him is really saddening," said Mr Sheik.
He added that Mr Romadhon and his family had been making their way from Bali to Surabaya via a highway when the car accident happened. His wife suffered head injuries and was taken to a hospital while their children have minor injuries.
Women's tanding Class F (70-75kg) bronze medallist Siti Khadijah Shahrem paid tribute to him in an Instagram story, writing: "You've done so much for me, your athletes and the country.
"Thank you for everything coach... we love and appreciate you coach."
A devastated women’s Class E (65-70kg) tanding champion Nurul Suhaila Saiful said her "heart is broken beyond repair" at the loss of her "coach, father figure and friend".
In an emotional post on Instagram, Suhaila, who won her first SEA Games gold in Hanoi after three consecutive bronzes, wrote: "Mas Dhon, you talked me out of quitting silat a few years ago and promised to make me a champion. This year, you took over the SEA Games team and helped me win my first SEA Games gold after 7 years. You said it was a new era. I believed you. We had so many plans in and out of silat...
"You were the light in unbearable times. You held my hand when I felt alienated. You worked hard and inspired me to do the same. You gave me the confidence I never had. I don't know how to do this without you...
"Thank you for everything you've done for me, the team and this country. You will never be forgotten."
In a post on Facebook on Saturday, Persisi said: "Well-loved by everyone in the silat community, coach Romadhon has contributed tremendously to the team's achievements.
"Our sincerest condolences to his loved ones. We share in this time of grief, but also share in all the love and memories."
Persisi is conducting a drive to collect donations for Mr Romadhon's widow. Those keen to contribute can contact the association directly through its Facebook page.
According to Mr Sheik, donations to the family can be sent via Paynow or bank transfer:
Donors should indicate their names when they make their contributions.