(Top and Above) The Brunei
karate team of Mohammad
Fadilah Sanif, Mohammad Jamil
Hj Abd Hamid, Mainuddin Hj
Mohamad and Muhammad Fida'iy
Sanif won bronze in the men's
team kumite in Jakarta on Monday,
despitenot having enough players.
Brunei's bronze medal in the karate team kumite on Monday is still on the minds of each of the karatekas and not necessarily for the right reason.
The four-man team defied the odds to finish joint-third with Malaysia which makes them, thus far, the most successful of the 11 sports the country has sent to the 26th edition of the Games in Indonesia.
They will return with one silver and two bronze medals or one medal in each day of competition.
Brunei currently have one silver and six bronze medals, with the other medals coming from pencak silat (three) and taekwondo (one).
With other teams all having seven names on the team kumite team list, questions were raised as to why the Sultanate only sent four karatekas to the Tennis Indoor Senayan Stadium, Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex here.
"Though we managed to win bronze it was torture having just four of us," said Muhammad Fida'iy Sanif. "Nearly all the other countries were asking why we only sent four.
"Malaysia even said they would prepare three karatekas if they knew earlier," said the 22-year-old Bruneian.
They were joking of course rules would never allow it but Malaysia's interest in Brunei's karate team just shows how much of a talking point it was among the 11 nations participating in the on-going Games.
The event has five karatekas going up against five from another country, with each coach preparing the team list in advance without knowing which weight classes his charges would go up against.
Brunei started with a 3-1 win over Myanmar in the first round (quarter-finals) courtesy of wins from Mohammad Jamil Hj Abd Hamid, Mainuddin Hj Mohamad and Muhammad Fida'iy.
It was in their semi-final tie against the Philippines, which they lost 5-0 on default after defeats in the first two games, that the team's size became a problem.
Muhammad Fida'iy and his older brother Mohammad Fadilah failed to get past their opponents and Brunei had to concede the match since rules state that each team of four that lose two matches automatically lose the tie.
Brunei beat Laos 3-1 in the repechage with Mohammad Jamil, Mohammad Fadilah and Muhammad Fida'iy winning their matches but Mainuddin drawing his.
Indonesia beat the Philippines 3-0 to win the event, with Malaysia defeating Vietnam by the same scoreline in the second repechage to share bronze with Brunei.
"Of course, we can improve in terms of our deficits," said Mohammad Fadilah, who has been in the team since the 1999 Brunei SEA Games.
"Deficits like ... not having enough members. Next time it will be easier for us (if we have a full team).
"If we have enough (players) we can fully compete," added the 32-year-old exponent, who is currently Brunei's best athlete here at the Games after winning silver with an 8-0 loss to Indonesia's Jintar Simanjuntak in the final of the men's below 67kg kumite on Sunday.
"All the countries sent seven (which includes two reserves). We were the only ones that didn't," chipped in Mohammad Jamil, who secured Brunei their first medal at the Games when he finished with joint-bronze in the men's above 84kg category on Saturday.
According to the karatekas, other countries were also represented in each of the weight classes; below 55kg, below 60kg, below 67kg, below 75kg, below 84kg and above 84kg.
Mainuddin, who saw action in the men's below 75kg, was happy that the effect of the team's small size was largely limited to the team kumite event.
"The important thing is that we had no injuries serious ones," he said.
"Also, I hope in the future we will send our own referees," he added.
Poor refereeing or the perception of it, at least was also a problem for Muhammad Fida'iy, who competed in the men's below 55kg category.
He beat Thailand's Hirannithichatphon Saratham 4-0 in the first round but lost his second to Vietnam's Nguyen Quang Phuc 6-1. Going up against Indonesia's Imam Tauhid Ragananda in the repechage, he lost the battle for joint-bronze 10-3.
"My individual match was alright but I felt the referee didn't give me points that I deserved so I was kind of disappointed," he said.
"The repechage against the Indonesian? No comment ... I felt the referee was on his side, perhaps 60 per cent," he added.
The Bruneians were not alone, with Malaysia's karate team also complaining about refereeing quality at the Games.
Muhammad Fida'iy also thanked his employers, Adinin Works & Engineering, for allowing him to take time off from work to train with the national team.
The contingent's chef de mission Hj Abdul Malik Hj Mohammad on Monday suggested it would be wise to look into the selection criteria for athletes for future multi-sport events.
"Speaking personally, I suggest that we review the selection process (of athletes) so that we are on the same platform with the other teams," said Hj Abdul Malik, who is also the Acting Director of the Department of Youth and Sports
"We should see that in the future, we have enough athletes for each event," he added.
Considering the success the karatekas have had in recent years, they deserve all the support they can get.
Mohammad Jamil won bronze in the men's 84kg and above in the last SEA Games in Laos in 2009, Mainuddin in the men's 84kg and below weight-class and Mohammad Fadillah in the men's 67kg and below category, with Muhammad Fida'iy the only member of the squad that didn't finish on the podium in 2009.
Courtesy from Brunei Times