SEA Games: No words to describe this feeling, says Iqbal Abdul Rahman after silat win

Iqbal Abdul Rahman showing off his gold medal after winning the men's artistic singles (Tunggal) final in Hanoi on May 11, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Iqbal Abdul Rahman celebrating after winning the gold medal in the men's artistic singles (Tunggal) final in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 11, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Iqbal garnered an average score of 9.960 from 10 judges in the final on May 11, 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

HANOI - Pencak silat exponent Iqbal Abdul Rahman clinched Singapore's first gold of the Hanoi SEA Games on Wednesday (May 11) after a victory over Thailand's Ilyas Sadara in the men's artistic singles (Tunggal) final.

Iqbal, 28, garnered an average score of 9.960 from 10 judges in the final at the Bac Tu Liem Gymnasium to see off his opponent who scored 9.930.

A world champion and four-time Asian Championships gold medallist, this was Iqbal's first SEA Games triumph after five unsuccessful tries.

He had claimed a silver medal in the men's artistic singles at the last edition in 2019 in the Philippines and a bronze on home soil in 2015.

Little wonder Iqbal was emotional after his match. He said: "No words to describe. I am beyond grateful. I am always confident and I am always feeling great about my capabilities.

"I did not have the slightest doubt about myself. I was confident I would give my everything and I managed to do that.

"It's always great to be the first one to contribute to anything. I am happy to win the first gold medal for the silat team and Singapore. It's a good feeling.

"A lot of my teammates and coaches said sixth time's the charm. I didn't have a target. didn't tell myself that I wanted to win the gold. I told myself that I wanted to give everything in the arena and I didn't want to go back to Singapore with any regrets."

Despite a full trophy cabinet, this triumph was hugely significant. He noted: "It means everything to me. I won the World Championship in 2018 and the SEA Games was the only thing that I was missing.

"Emotions were high. I didn't even see my scores and I was hearing the cheers from my teammates.  The moment I heard the loudest cheers, I knew the gold was mine."

He added: "It's too early for retirement and I still have a long way to go.  I wasn't that emotional during the world championships. It (tears) was probably because the tension was high.

"The gold is not just for myself but for my teammates. I promised them that I would give my best."

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Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who is in the Vietnam capital and shared a warm embrace with Iqbal after his competition, said: "I hope the trail that he blazes as the first gold medal (winner) for Singapore will set an example for many others to come.

"His gold is also a story of great resilience and determination. This is his sixth time at the SEA games and I am so proud of him for showing grit and tenacity. I hope he inspires many more team Singapore athletes to do the same."

Muhammad Hazim Mohammad Zaque and Muhammad Haziq Mohammad Zaque also won a silver medal in the men's artistic doubles (Ganda). The brothers who are making their Games debut, scored 9.905 in the final to claim silver.

Malaysia's Muhammad Taqiyuddin and Sazzlan Yuga scored 9.950 to take gold.

In the artistic category, the trio of Amirah Sahrin, Iffah Batrisyia Noh and Nur Ashikin Zulkifli took bronze in the women's team (Regu) event after they finished joint third with Malaysia.

Nur Azlyana Ismail and Sharifah Shazza Samsuri were also awarded joint bronze after finishing third alongside Malaysia in the women's doubles (Ganda) event.

Their haul adds to Singapore's medal tally.

On Monday, teenager Avvir Tham secured Singapore's first medal in Vietnam, a silver in the men's diving 1m individual springboard.

A day later, Jonathan Chan and Max Lee finished second in the men's 10m synchronised platform while teammate Fong Kay Yian clinched a bronze medal in the women's individual 3m springboard final.

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