HRH Prince Sufri Bolkiah(C),
President of the Brunei Darussalam
National Olympic Council, mingles
with the Sepak Takraw team before
its departure for the 2nd Asian
Beach Games in Muscat, Oman.
The Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC) is counting on the national sepak takraw team to defend their bronze medal at next week's 2nd Asian Beach Games.
The country will be competing in the inter-regu category at the Dec 8-16 tournament in Muscat, Oman, and another third place finish has been targeted for the men led by national coach Ittiphol Chomchaissak.
Brunei finished joint-third in the discipline during the first edition of the Games in Bali, Indonesia, sharing the medal with Malaysia after both countries were knocked out in the semi-finals.
Their trip to Bali was a fruitful one after finishing with two silver and three bronze medals, with the other medals coming from pencak silat which, unfortunately for Brunei, will not be contested this year.
Nevertheless, BNOC is hoping that the six athletes flying the flag this year will be able to mount a charge to the podium.
"In our first time competing our athletes in pencak silat and sepak takraw displayed a performance that made the country very proud," said BNOC president His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah yesterday.
"They succeeded in winning a few medals and I hope and pray that our participation this time in sepak takraw will see us repeat the same performance and success.
"I have been informed that the athletes who have been chosen have undergone intensive training in the country and 'warm-up' training overseas to get match-experience competing with experienced athletes from abroad.
"I trust that this training will be of maximal use.
"I hope the athletes will have the spirit and effort to win ... I am sure that if the athletes focus and have patriotic fighting spirit, we will be able to get success and make the country proud," added His Royal Highness.
The president made the comments during the flag handing-over ceremony at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, where he presented the national flag to the contingent's chef de mission Kipli Hj Jaafar.
Trained by Ittiphol, the team is comprised of Azri Tahir, Hadi Ariffin Matali, Ismail Ang, Mohd Amin Mahari, Nur Alimin Sungguh and Shukor Jaineh.
Brunei Darussalam Sepak Takraw Association (Pestabaru) secretary-general Hj Mohd Noor Hj Hamid will serve as the team's manager.
They will be leaving on Sunday night via Dubai and returning on Dec 19.
BNOC's sentiments are shared by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, who are also expecting nothing less than another run to the semi-finals.
"I advise the athletes that have been chosen to represent the country to make the most of this chance to give a strong fight," said the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Paduka Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah.
"This is because our participation is not merely to gain experience but to bring victory and success to Brunei.
"The (ministry's) national selection and evaluation committee has made the selection based on the given criteria and now I urge the athletes that have been picked to give it 110 per cent when competing.
"I understand that the athletes will be facing different conditions (competing in the beach). Whatever it is our athletes need to work to at least equal the bronze medal won in Bali," he added in his speech.
The Sultanate placed 22nd on the list of 27 countries that bagged medals two years ago. As in 2008, 45 countries from across Asia will be competing this year.
A total of 14 sports will be contested in Muscat: bodybuilding, football, handball, jetski, kabaddi, marathon, sailing, sepak takraw, tent pegging, triathlon, volleyball, water-polo, waterski and woodball.
Courtesy from Brunei Times