(Top) His Royal Highness Prince
Hj Sufri Bolkiah (R), the President
of the Brunei Darussalam National
Olympic Council (BNOC),talks to
members of the national shorinji
kempo team in Jakarta yesterday.
(Above) The national shorinji
kempo team in action yesterday.
Pictures: BT/ Infofoto
His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah has a novel suggestion for the country's athletes who are finding it hard to drown out the crowd at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here.
"Don't care about the crowd unless you want to use earplugs," he grinned.
From the pencak silat team to the karatedo squad and shorinji kempo side, all have said the noise levels at their venues have been hard to handle.
But the President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BDNOC), who has watched national athletes in each of the seven sports they have competed in here and looks certain to visit the wushu exponents when they start today, advised them to block out all external stimuli.
"If they say the crowd affects their performance that means they are not concentrating on the opponent. You can't tell the crowd not to cheer," he noted.
"You're not fighting with the crowd, you're fighting with your opponent. If you fight with the crowd you're already dead!
"If you go into the centre court ... The coach, the manager, the supporters, me ... we can't do anything. Only you can. Overall it goes back to mental preparation. I think all our athletes have been good the only problem is our mental preparation.
"It easily drops. Also they can't hold their temper. They should change the way they train. They need to concentrate on their mental preparation. Maybe they don't have enough courage.
"Now we have a sports psychologist, but he's only been training with them for a few months. That's not enough," he pointed out.
The 10-pin bowling team provided a prime example of how the Brunei athletes in the Indonesian capital seem to have found mental fortitude hard to come by.
His Royal Highness was at the Jaya Ancol Bowling Centre to support the country in the men's trios yesterday and it seemed to work until he left at the third game.
National coach Mike Griffith even said the team were playing "brilliantly" until His Royal Highness left, the Australian also putting the blame down to his charges' mental strength.
Their score in the second of the six games bowled was the highest by any country up until that point (611), and they were third before the lunch break and second block of three games. They recorded 545, 611 and 528 in their first three games but scores of 497, 514 and a low of 471 meant they would finish last in the pool of 13 teams.
"In their first game the bowlers were very strong mentally, but I didn't see them after that. Their first game was up, their second game was up," said His Royal Highness, who should know all about keeping focused from his days representing Brunei as a clay target shooter.
"I don't know why that happened ... But I can't be there all the time I have to be there for the others too," he smiled during an interview with The Brunei Times.
Indeed, His Royal Highness has been a constant presence at each of the seven venues Brunei has seen action in as of yesterday, a fact which has surely given the national athletes and coaches motivation.
In some instances, His Royal Highness and his delegation have been the only Bruneians at a venue extra cause for encouragement for any national athlete.
His talk to the national football team, who avoided the wooden spoon tag by beating the Philippines 2-1 to finish above them in the six-team Group B standings on Wednesday, also got the desired result.
The team had players sent off in three of their previous four games but His Royal Highness' talk at the team hotel on Sunday ensured they remained disciplined throughout the come from behind victory their first three points of the competition.
And after watching the team get dismantled 8-0 by Vietnam, it is commendable the national side were able to remain positive heading into their last game.
"It's good. I'm satisfied (with the win)," beamed His Royal Highness, who is also the Honorary President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD).
"It made me happy and at least now we're above the Philippines.
"When I visited them I told them I don't want to see any more red cards and at least they listened to what I said. Now what if they did this from the beginning?," he asked rhetorically.
As of yesterday the Sultanate has won one silver and six bronze medals, with the karatedo team delivering the lone silver and two bronze medals, pencak silat three bronze and taekwondo one bronze.
His Royal Highness believes the country which is represented by 11 sports this year can do better. Considering the 2009 Laos SEA Games saw the country return with one gold, one silver and eight bronze medals from six sports, it is easy to see why.
"To me, I don't think we should be happy with the haul," said the BNOC president, who went on to dismiss any claims of bias referring.
"I'm happy with the pencak silat team, but their performance has been a bit down from 2009 (when the team won Brunei's only gold and three bronze medals),.
"Blaming the referee, that always happens. We have to follow the rules and respect them. We can't complain and do much (after the result). Every manager and coach doesn't want his/ her athlete to lose," he added.
Courtesy from Brunei Times