National silat exponent Freddy
Ashrul Choo being attended to
by medics after being kicked
in the face by Indonesia's
Pranoto in Jakarta yesterday.
Picture:BT/ Jason Thomas
Lights out Freddy Ashrul Choo, lights out Brunei's hopes of a pencak silat tanding medal.
The last of the country's three entries in the tanding events at the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Choo's Class I (85-90kg) match against Indonesia's Pranoto was also the last of the day here at the Padepokan Pencak Silat, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII).
Trailing to the grinning Indonesian after a hesitant start, Choo managed to show some fight as the rounds progressed until the last 26 seconds that is.
A kick to Choo's face knocked him out cold, and despite the doctor proclaiming him fit to proceed, the 24-year-old Bruneian hardly moved a muscle when the judge counted to 10 to signal the restart.
Pranoto was later named winner on total knock-out.
Stretchered off the floor, Choo brought with him what little chance Brunei had at winning a medal in the tanding events.
Earlier in the day, Pg Khairul Bahri Pg Ali Umar lost 5-0 to Thailand's Katahat Raksapon in Class F (70-75kg), while on Sunday Amirul Ahat succumbed by the same result to Thailand's Anothai Choopeng.
Like Amirul, Choo won bronze at the last edition of the Games in Laos and was part of the team that returned with a haul of one gold and three bronze medals two years ago.
They were the most successful of the eight sports which Brunei sent to Laos but national silat coach Suhartono was in no mood to talk about the past.
"I'm not satisfied with this situation," fumed Suhartono. "We will protest at the team manager's meeting.
"How could the doctor say Choo was fit to compete when he clearly wasn't?," he asked.
Perhaps fearful of a protest from Brunei, the floor was clear of all referees, judges and officials just minutes after the match. Though Choo did show some life before the match was called off, his teammates urged him to stay down which was probably for his own good.
Suhartono had little to say about Amirul and Pg Khairul Bahri, who along with Choo, failed to progress past the first round (quarter-finals) of the biennial meet.
"Amirul had to lose weight to compete in this class (Class A) and he didn't have much energy. His kicks weren't as strong," said the Indonesian.
"Pg Khairul Bahri started well, but his opponent used muay thai techniques to win. Thais have a good foundation in martial arts," added Suhartono.
He should know.
After all, he was roped in to coach the Thai national team in 2007 as they prepared for that year's SEA Games, where they clinched four gold, one silver and five bronze medals.
"They all had a good base I just had to refine their skills," he explained.
Suhartono's experience speaks for itself, having coached Vietnam from 1995 to 2000 before helping the Indonesian national team reap 14 gold medals at the 10th Pencak Silat World Championship in Jakarta in 2000. He went on to coach the Philippines from 2000 to 2005 before returning to Vietnam in 2006.
He started in Brunei in 2008 and believes it could have been a different story for the Sultanate had they brought more exponents to Jakarta. Indeed, with three in tanding, Brunei's squad were the smallest on show.
"We only have three athletes. We didn't have a lot of chance," admitted Suhartono.
"Look at Myanmar and Vietnam ... They have a lot of athletes. They are all new but they still managed to provide a fight. Some even beat Indonesia," said the coach, who knew it was no easy task considering the deafening support the hosts get. "But in Brunei you need achievements before you can compete (at the SEA Games).
"It's a pity," he said, his eyes slowly drifting off.
The number of athletes the country has brought is slowly becoming an issue after the karate team were forced to surrender their men's team kumite semi-final to the Philippines yesterday since they only had four karatekas other countries have at least five.
Suhartono can look forward to Hj Md Khairul Bahrin Hj Duraman, who won the only gold medal for the country in Laos, to help ease some pain.
Hj Md Khairul Bahrin will compete in the final of the men's seni tunggal (artistic single) today after advancing from Sunday's pool stage. Norleyermah Hj Raya, who won silver at the 2007 edition in Korat, Thailand, will also be in the running for medals in today's women's seni tunggal final.
Courtesy from Brunei Times