(Pic, above) Brunei's gold
medallists in Vietnam Nurul Aimi
Amalina Zainidi (L) and Khuzaiman
Ahmad (R). Picture: BT
Khuzaiman Ahmad seems like the kind of guy who takes it all in his stride.
The national silat exponent became the first Bruneian to beat a Vietnamese in an international tanding (match sparring) event early this month, but the 21-year-old athlete didn't think the win at the 2nd Southeast Asian Silat Championships 2010 was anything special — that despite the fact it was also his first gold medal in an international tournament.
National silat coach Suhartono last year said that Vietnam and Thailand were the countries to beat in the region, so Khuzaiman's semi-final men's Class E (65-70kg) victory over Nguyen Duy Chien in the Aug 5-10 tournament in Vietnam was definitely something to write home about.
Khuzaiman defeated home favourite Nguyen 4-1 on Aug 6 and went on to claim gold two days later by beating Malaysia's Mohd Al Jufferi Jamari 3-2 in the final at the Thanh Hoa Gymnasium in the central province of Thanh Hoa.
It was the country's second gold medal at the tournament Nurul Aimi Amalina Zainidi won the other in the women's tunggal (single) event on Aug 7 and Khuzaiman was as cool as a cucumber when asked what he felt about the result.
"I didn't know I was the first to beat a Vietnamese until the coach (Suhartono) told me when I finished the match," he told The Brunei Times minutes after his arrival at the Brunei International Airport late last week.
"I am satisfied with the result though I got hurt in the match.
"It was tough but I followed my coach's instructions and did what he told me to," added the Royal Brunei Police Force officer.
Winning bronze in the Class D (60-65 kg) category during the first edition of the meet in Ho Chi Minh City two years ago, Khuzaiman is no stranger to success in the event.
He had a hat-trick of bronze medals last year in the 1st Asian Martial Arts Games in Bangkok in August, the 3rd Asian Indoor Games in Hanoi in October and the 25th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Laos in December but they were all in the Class D weight class.
Stepping on to the court early this month for the first time in a different category, creating history was the last thing on Khuzaiman's mind.
"I didn't think I could win gold because I knew the competitors were tough," he said.
"It is good to know that history was made. So yeah, I am proud," said Khuzaiman, finally breaking into a smile.
Just like how moving up a weight class did the trick for Khuzaiman, entering a different event proved to be just as successful for Nurul.
She has always competed in the women's regu (triple) event, and teaming up with sisters Norleyermah and Norleyharyanti Hj Raya, the trio tasted success when they won gold at the 2nd Asian Indoor Games in 2008.
They won silver at the same event last year but felt that biased refereeing had robbed them of a place on top of the podium.
Norleyermah was supposed to compete in the single event in Thanh Hoa but pulled out because she couldn't make the trip.
Nurul wasn't complaining though, and her decision to replace Norleyermah and go solo paid off handsomely when she won the event with a score of 468.
She was only two points off the second-placed Noor Marina Kamaruddin of Malaysia who finished on 466. Vietnam's Vu Thi Thao took home bronze with a score of 454.
"My target was just to bring back a medal. Maybe it's my luck that I returned with gold," she said last Friday.
"It was my first time competing in the event so I was nervous but confident at the same time because of the encouragement given by my friends, coaches and the rest of the Bruneians there," added the 24-year-old exponent.
Except for two exponents Md Eddy Ratno Hj Abu Bakar in the men's tunggal and men's ganda (double), where he combined with 2009 SEA Games gold medallist Hj Md Khairul Bahrin Hj Duraman all 13 of the Sultanate's entries finished on the podium.
Brunei returned with two gold, one silver and six bronze medals, an improvement from their one gold, three bronze and six bronze medals in the 2008 edition in Ho Chi Minh City.
It was also a result which put them in at third.
According to the Voice of Vietnam website, hosts Vietnam won the championship with 14 gold, five silver and three bronze medals while Malaysia came in second with six gold, nine silver and five bronze medals.
Newcomer Farina Afina PDP Hj Abd Jalil made it a debut to remember when she won Brunei's sole silver medal in the women's tanding Class F (70-75kg) event.
Amirul Ahad (men's Class B 50-55kg), Mohd Amali Hj Abd Malik (men's Class C Lelaki 55-60kg), Mohd Izzat Zaini (men's class D 60-65kg), Mohd Amin Ali (men's Class F 70-75kg) and Siti Zuliza Omar (women's Class C 55-60kg) all won bronze.
Abd Malik Hj Ladi, Abd Rahman Hj Asli and Juffri Hj Junaidi won the country's sixth bronze medal in the seni regu (artistic triple) category.
The one-week competition saw 95 martial artists from Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Timor Leste and Vietnam competing in 18 match sparring events and six artistic events.
Suhartono was always looking at the event as a means to gain exposure and prepare for the Pencak Silat World Championships in December and next year's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games both of which will be in his native Indonesia.
He said the team's performance had improved in terms of their technique, experience and maturity evident by the first-ever win over Vietnam.
Though it is the fasting month of Ramadhan, Suhartono insists that the team's training will not be disrupted.
"The medals were good for the athletes since they should help keep them motivated in training as we head into these two big tournaments," he said last week.
"We will still train during the fasting month but replace our morning session with one at night. We will train in the evening just before breaking fast."
The coach is a veteran at helming national sides, having been in charge of four countries over the past 15 years.
He handled the national teams of Vietnam (from 1995 to 2000 and 2005 and 2006), the Philippines (2000 to 2002) and Thailand (2007).
The haul in Vietnam not only cements his reputation as a coach but also Brunei Darussalam National Silat Association's (Persib) status as the country's most dominant sporting association at the international level.
Competing in three tournaments, they won one gold, four silver and 10 bronze medals last year.
With 2010 only half-way through, Persib should have its head held high knowing that its athletes have already bettered last year's haul in a single competition.
Courtesy from Brunei Times