THE head coach of the national pencak silat team has found a novel way to make sure the country's athletes are fully focused for next month's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Laos.
The only one of the seven national teams competing in Laos to take such a measure, the pencak silat team has been training in Temburong for the past three weeks to ensure there are as little distractions as possible heading into the 25th edition of the Games from Dec 9-18.
"They can't concentrate if they are in Bandar Seri Begawan, if they want to go back they will need to take a boat," said Suhartono with a smile yesterday.
"If they are in Bandar, even though they are in the Games Village it is hard to control (their movement) so I requested permission from the Department of Youth and Sports to carry out our training in Temburong.
"It is obvious that it is working because I can see their mental strength and self-confidence increase. I plan to do this with the next generation of pencak silat athletes. Start them young and keep when they are not contaminated by things like money," added the Indonesian.
The 52-year-old Jakarta native was talking to the Brunei Times during the sidelines of a visit from the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, to the team's training yesterday.
The third day of his visit to the seven teams preparing for Laos, HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah also visited the karate-do team which was training at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas as well.
The pencak silat athletes competing in the men's tanding (challenge) events are Amirul Ahat (Class A, 45-50kg), Mohd Amali Hj Malek (Class B, 50-55kg), Khuzaiman Ahmad (Class D, 60-65kg), Mohd Kifli Hamzah (Class E, 65-70kg), Pg Khairul Bahri Pg Ali Umar (Class F, 70-75kg) and Freddy Ashrul Choo (Class G, 75-80kg).
Competing in Class B, Siti Zuliza Omar is the only exponent in the women's tanding event.
Coached by Pg Hj Tejudin Pg Md Salleh, Hj Md Khairul Bahrin Hj Duraman is set to compete in the men's seni tunggal (artistic) event while 2007 SEA Games silver medalist in the women's seni tunggal event, Norleyermah Hj Raya, will be looking to at least repeat her achievement.
All seasoned exponents, a majority of them have won medals at the 3rd Indoor Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month and also at the 1st Asian Martial Arts Games in Bangkok, Thailand in August.
The tanding team also underwent a two-week training programme in Surabaya, Indonesia, in October to prepare for the SEA Games.
Suhartono said that the team would go back to Temburong after the visit and train there until Saturday. They will return to the capital for three days and leave for Temburong on Tuesday, returning only on Friday.
Guiding the Thai national team to four gold, one silver and five bronze medals during the 2007 SEA Games in Korat, Thailand, the journeyed coach said he was confident he could once again steer a national team to success.
"I am sure they can get medals, it all depends on their individual character," said Suhartono.
"The athletes all have their own strengths and weaknesses, what I have done is take those strengths and help them develop their technique. But they must all have high confidence, if not no matter how much technique they have, they will still finish last. A strong spirit of nationalism is also important. If they have that in their hearts, even if they get injured they won't feel it. They already have it - it has to be increased. Though they all have a chance to get medals, it also depends on the draw and if we are drawn with strong teams such as Indonesia and Vietnam," he added.
The coach should know what he is talking about, having been in charge of four national teams over the past 15 years. He handled the national teams of Vietnam (1995 to 2000 and 2005 and 2006), the Philippines (2000 to 2002) and Thailand (2007).
Courtesy from Brunei Times