Maziah Mahusin (C), Ak Hafiy
Tajuddin Pg Rositi (R) and
Anderson Lim Chee Wei were the
three Bruneians proudly
representing Brunei at the London
games earlier this year under the
universality rules. Picture: BT file
The London Olympics will hold a special place in the memory of Bruneians. The Sultanate completed a turn-around of having no atheletes in Beijing 2008 to fielding three, one of them Brunei's first female Olympian.
The Sultanate missed out on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after failing to send any representatives due to unforeseen circumstances.
But there was no mistake about it this year for the July 27-Aug 12 multi-sport event after Brunei sent three athletes Maziah Mahusin, Ak Hafiy Tajuddin Pg Rositi and Anderson Lim Chee Wei to compete.
The biggest story was the participation of 400-metre specialist Maziah, who became the first female from the country to do so.
The Sultanate's participation at the Olympics was made possible courtesy of universality places that the world governing bodies of athletics and swimming, IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation) respectively, have opened to countries that have no qualified athletes.
It all started out with the 19-year-old being awarded one of the two London 2012 Olympic Scholarships (with Lim being the other) back in September last year.
Putting in all the hard work and training under head coach Isidro del Prado, she was on the plane bound for London but fell sick upon arrival at the Games.
Despite that, she was made the flag bearer for the country at opening ceremony and any thoughts of Brunei missing the Olympics four years ago were quickly erased when she came out on the track at the Olympic Stadium.
Grinning from ear to ear and waving at cameras, she led the country's contingent of three athletes out to 80,000 people and a global audience of up to one billion people watching on television.
"Once we went into the stadium all of us were screaming. We couldn't believe it was really happening. We couldn't believe it wasn't a dream," she said.
"Actually, we (Maziah, Ak Hafiy Tajuddin and Anderson Lim) just couldn't believe we had made it (to the Olympics)," she added.
She didn't train for three days because of the chest infection due to the cold and dry air.
However, she still outdid herself and justified her place in London after clocking 59.28 seconds in the 400m heats, which is her first ever sub-60 seconds in the event.
It was a new national record and she broke her previous best of 1:00.32 at that time as well.
She also drew praise from His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the President of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC) on her performance.
"Maziah was amazingly unbelievable. The official announcement made soon after the race at the Olympic Stadium that Maziah... has set the new Brunei Darussalam national record (under one minute mark) and the way the full capacity crowd of 80,000 reacted with loud applause was so unreal, unexpected and unbelievable," said HRH.
"Her commitment and determination was rock solid until the finish line. I guess this is what Olympic Games is all about, which can inspire a generation. I am so proud of her and I am sure her family, fellow national athletes and Brunei Darussalam, too," added the Prince.
More importantly for Maziah is that she hopes to be an inspiration to other female athletes.
"I really hope that my being the first woman to represent the Sultanate in the Olympics will open up more opportunities for other Bruneian female athletes," said Maziah.
"I hope to inspire the youth. Just have fun and be patient. It will eventually pay off. I do hope I can be a good role model for others."
Overall it was an extremely successful outing for the Bruneians at the Olympics.
Brunei's first Olympian swimmer set a new record in the 200m freestyle after he clocked 2:02.26 smashing his previous best and national record of 2:05.19.
Ak Hafiy Tajuddin finished his 400m event with a time of 48.67s for a new personal best.
The focus now shifts to the next Olympics to be held in Brazil in 2016. Hopefully, Brunei will be able to take part based on merit.
Courtesy from Brunei Times