SEFLI AHAR lived up to his status as Brunei's top runner when he won the half-marathon event at the 3rd Borneo Games yesterday at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
Sefli, who hails from Temburong District, crossed the finish line with a time of 1:17.30. Rafiq from East Kalimantan bagged the silver medal in 1:21.18 while Alizan Alikhan, who is also from Brunei, claimed the bronze after clocking 1:23.52. Siti Marinah completed the 3-0 scoreline with a walkover win.
Ahar had told The Brunei Times that he was aiming for a podium finish before the start of the race but achieved more than just that as he is the only athlete to win a gold medal in the athletics events for the Sultanate this year.
"I wasn't that confident at the start of the race as I was aiming to finish on the podium only but I'm proud that I achieved more than that and managed to be the only one to win a gold in athletics for Brunei this year," said Ahar, who saw action in the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia (2001) and Vietnam (2003).
"The weather was really hot today (Thursday) and with five kilometres left to the finishing line, I began to feel really tired because I didn't eat my breakfast before the race," said Ahar, who won his second medal in the tournament. He was a silver medalist in the 5000m two years ago in Kuching, Sarawak.
"The other problem was the pollution coming from the cars which really made things difficult for any of the long distance runners," added Ahar, who finished seventh at the Kuala Lumpur half-marathon in June.
Sefli has been training since October and he said that was the reason why he won the gold medal.
"I train twice a week daily and I think that was the reason I won," said the 35-year-old Sefli, who became a member of the national team in 1998.
The Temburong native 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.
Sefli has formed a running team called Sports Endurance Fitness (SEF) whose members are as young as 14 years old.
"What I want to do is to support and help the local runners. Everyone can run but then there are techniques involved to become a long distance runner. Running is also good for health," said Sefli, whose younger brother Jimmy is also a member of the national team.
Sefli, who holds three national records, leaves this morning for Singapore to compete in a half-marathon event which will start on Sunday.
"I hope to make it on the podium again," said Sefli, who joined the Standard Chartered Marathon in Hong Kong last February.
"Today's (Thursday) race can be considered as a warm-up for my next race in Singapore.But what I really want to do is to achieve my dream of running in the Boston marathon," said Sefli, who also saw action at the Kuala Lumpur and Borneo International half-marathon.
"I want to achieve more and I can only do that if work hard and stay focused on my goals," said Sefli, who thanked former coach Oleksander Moskalenko of Ukraine for making him a good runner.
Hj Mohamad Penglima Asgar Dato Paduka Hj Abdullah, Director of the Youth and Sports Department under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports presented the medals to the winners during the awarding ceremony.
Courtesy from Brunei Times