His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BDNOC) presiding over yesterday's meeting at the Conference Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas. Picture: Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
The national wushu, karatedo and pencak silat squads are expected to head the list of medal hopefuls at December's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar, where the Sultanate is once again set to compete in the all-important football competition.
The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports' national selection and evaluation committee yesterday approved the nomination of 63 athletes from 10 sports to the Dec 11-22 regional meet in a meeting attended by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BDNOC).
The meeting saw the committee trim the number down from June's 231 athletes from 18 sports to the 63 athletes from 10 sports ahead of Sunday's deadline for entry of names.
The taekwondo team which won bronze in 2011 was also nominated to go to the 27th edition of the Games, as were the athletics, billiards & snooker, cycling, sepak takraw and petanque squads.
Among the top achievers at the last edition of the biennial games in Indonesia, yesterday's news that wushu, karatedo and pencak silat will be among the 10 sports Brunei will have representatives in at Naypyidaw is hardly surprising though nominations of all athletes and teams are still pending approval from the ministry.
Though none of the three teams returned with medals from the 2011 edition where Brunei was the only country not to clinch a trip to the top of the podium after finishing with four silver and 11 bronze medals the pressure will be on them to deliver at the end of the year.
The wushu team finished with one silver losing out on gold by an agonising 0.01 point and one bronze in 2011, the karatedo squad one silver and two bronze medals and the pencak silat side three bronze, making their inclusion perhaps the first ones on the list as the committee chaired its deciding meeting on the SEA Games at the Conference Room of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.
The continued faith the committee has placed in the football team, which competed in the 2011 edition after an absence of 10 years and saw their campaign end in the group stage, is sure to attract the most attention with every game sure to be discussed and analysed by the legions of local football fans.
A surprise has been the exclusion of the kempo team, whose four exponents claimed a country-best of two silver medals at the last edition in Jakarta and that despite the sport only being introduced to the county at the beginning of the year.
Popular sports such as futsal, golf and chess joined boxing, body-building, canoeing and traditional boat race as the others which failed to make the grade this year.
The 63-athlete, 10-team list was compiled based on five criteria; passes in fitness tests, good disciplinary records, improvements during training, satisfactory attendance records and potential to win medals.
In addition, their achievements over the past two years and current form was also taken into consideration, according to a press release issued by the committee.
The press release went on to add that continued training and guidance from coaches and their respective sports associations is still needed in order to ensure the athletes are fully prepared to represent the country and provide a fight.
Also present at the meeting were the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah and Deputy Minister Datin Paduka Hjh Adina Othman and other officials from the ministry and government agencies.