SINGAPORE - Singapore won seven gold medals at the 18th World Pencak Silat Championship that came to a close on Sunday (Dec 16), surpassing the six-gold target set by Singapore Silat Federation (Persisi) chief Sheik Alau'ddin.
After three gold medals in the artistic discipline of the sport on the opening day of the tourney on Thursday, eight Singaporeans were in action at the OCBC Arena on Sunday, with four of them - Sheik Farhan, Sheik Ferdous, Nurul Suhaila Saiful and Hazim Yusli - striking gold.
The result is the Republic's best-ever showing at the event that is the pinnacle of the sport, and newly minted three-time world champion Farhan was absolutely delighted that his teammates are finally getting the exposure he believes they deserve.
It was extra special for Farhan, who beat Vietnam's Pham Khac Truong to win gold in the Class J (90-95kg) final on what was his 21st birthday.
"The first time I won gold at the World Championship, I was alone but, when I won that match just now, Singapore have already won five medals in total, and it was a great feeling," Farhan said after receiving his medal.
"We've all trained hard, and my teammates deserve much more exposure than they are getting. We've waited so long for this and, with these wins, I'm so glad that they are also now 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."
Suhaila was delighted to finally become a world champion, after failing to strike gold in three previous editions of the tourney. Hazim struck gold in Class B (50-55kg) while Ferdous triumphed in Class I (85-90kg).
"The last few years of losing at major competitions have pushed me to my limits and I'm grateful to all the support I've got from my coaches, teammates and those at Sport Singapore and the Singapore Sports institute - 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 that 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 Championships, 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."