Sea Games 2019

Silat trio in sync, on song

From far left: Nazrul Kamal, Nujaid Hasif, Hamillatu Arash won the men's seni regu team gold, Singapore's first in the artistic event. The trio were champions for the first time yesterday, at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Centre in Manila,
From left: Nazrul Kamal, Nujaid Hasif, Hamillatu Arash won the men's seni regu team gold, Singapore's first in the artistic event. The trio were champions for the first time yesterday, at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Centre in Manila, having clinched bronze at the World Championships in Singapore. PHOTO: REUTERS

Seni regu team crowned champions in artistic event to end sequence of near misses

From last year's Asian Games to September's Malaysia Open to October's World Beach Championship, Singapore's silat trio just could not win anything.

Yesterday, Hamillatu Arash, Nujaid Hasif and Nazrul Kamal made their breakthrough in style - emerging as the men's seni regu (team) champions in the Philippines. This is also the Republic's first SEA Games gold in the artistic event.

Nazrul, a 20-year-old Temasek Polytechnic graduate, said: "It feels very surreal because we did not win anything at the Asian Games, and what a turnaround this is.

"We woke up after the Malaysia Open and World Beach (Pencak Silat) Championship. We trained almost daily - gym in the morning and practising our technique in the afternoon."

Their perseverance and hard work paid off as they scored 466 points with their three-minute routine to finish ahead of Thailand (458) and Malaysia (453).

For Nujaid and Hamillatu, victory was especially sweet as they were part of the team who were third two years ago in Malaysia.

Hamillatu, a 21-year-old Republic Polytechnic student, said: "We were disappointed with the bronze and that served as motivation.

"Another bronze at the World Championship in Singapore last year was a performance marker and we really wanted to do better."

Hasif, a 19-year-old Singapore Sports School student, added: "Our event is all about sychronisation and power, and we produced one of our best performances ever.

"It was a very competitive field, the seven countries have made big improvements. So it was very satisfying to win gold."

The never-say-die attitude extended to 26-year-old Iqbal Abdul Rahman, a veteran of five Games, who had one bronze from 2015.

That all changed yesterday when he earned a silver in the men's seni tunggal (singles) with 461 points, nine behind Filipino champion Edmar Tacuel, and one ahead of Indonesia's Dino Sulistianto.

Iqbal, who has been practising silat for over 20 years, said: "There are no words to describe my joy because I have been trying so hard, and finally I'm bringing back a medal thanks to the effort and sacrifices my coaches and I have put in.

"It is a timely boost for me to push even harder to win gold next time."

Singapore Silat Federation chief executive officer Sheik Alau'ddin was pleased with the haul from the first day of competition.

At the last Games, the team brought home two golds, four silvers and six bronzes.

This year's competition runs until Friday, with nine golds up for grabs, and Sheik is targeting at least another gold from the tanding (sparring) events.

He said: "Having never won seni regu team gold, hopefully, their win will give belief to the other athletes.

"Some may have asked why should they push themselves to the wall and go through all the scoldings in training when they can't win anyway. But these boys have put their heart and soul in it, stayed hungry and continued believing.

"Today, their timing and control were spot-on. It is not easy for a trio to synchronise the height of their kicks and punches, to get their positioning and alignment right but they did it.

"I'm also happy for Iqbal because this has been a long time coming. It is so difficult to win gold at this level and, inevitably, somebody will end up in tears."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2019, with the headline 'Silat trio in sync, on song'. Print Edition | Subscribe