BRUNEI'S top runner Sefli Ahar hopes to make his country proud when he competes in the men's half-marathon event at the 3rd Borneo Games on Thursday.
The 35-year-old has been looking forward to the Borneo Games, which is the fourth tournament in his calendar year. He joined the Standard Chartered Marathon in Hong Kong (February), Kuala Lumpur Half-Marathon (June) and Borneo International Marathon (October)
"I've been preparing for the Borneo Games since I got back from Kota Kinabalu last October," said Ahar, the eldest among three siblings who are all athletes. His younger brother, Jimmy, is also a runner who holds the national record in 800 metres and 1,500 metres while the youngest, Philip, plays football.
"I'm aiming for a podium finish and I hope I can achieve that," added Ahar, who saw action in the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia (2001) and Vietnam (2003).
"I don't want to be overconfident. I'm just optimistic because training-wise, I think that I'm in my best form," said the runner from Temburong District.
Ahar has been concentrating in half-marathon since winning the gold medal in the 2005 Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia. It was in that tournament where he set a personal best time of 1:12:00.
"The reason why I skipped the inaugural staging of the Borneo Games in Sabah was that I have to compete in the Arafura Games. It's a good thing that I won the gold and I was able to set my personal best time," said Ahar, who joined the national team in 1998.
Ahar joined the second edition of the Borneo Games held in Kuching. He opted for the 5,000 metres instead of the half-marathon, a choice he did not regret as he won the silver medal.
"Of course, I was hoping for the gold but winning the silver was okay. I always tell myself that as long as I do my best, I should accept the outcome of my performance," said Ahar, who started running at 14.
Ahar, who holds the national record in half-marathon (1:09:03), full marathon (2:41:12) and 10,000 metres, gave credit to Ukraine's Oleksander Moskalenko for making him one of Brunei's best athletes.
"I became a good runner because of the training I got from Moskalenko. Under his guidance, I developed my endurance and I learned a lot from him about speed training and hill training," said Ahar, who was handled by the Ukrainian for three years.
After Moskalenko left, Ahar decided to quit the national team and formed a team called Sports Endurance Fitness (SEF). The team have 40 runners, the youngest is 14-years-old and the oldest is 50-years-old.
After the Borneo Games, Ahar will leave for the Singapore Half-Marathon which will start on Sunday.
"I always keep a positive outlook. I don't know what to expect in Singapore. I will do my best and that's what I always do in all competitions I join. Wish me luck," Ahar concluded.
Courtesy from Brunei Times