National taekwondo coach Kim Jung jun (L) poses with Nurulain Md Jafa'ar (C) and Fathullah Mohammad Taib at the end of the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games' taekwondo tournament on Saturday. BT/ Jason Thomas
Despite losing both their matches, national taekwondo coach Kim Jung jun said Brunei has made an impression at the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Fathullah Mohammad Taib lost his first match 9-6 to the Philippines Paul Romero in the men's 58-63kg (bantam weight) category on Friday and Nurulain Md Jafa'ar fell 6-3 to Indonesia's Selviana Angelia Jehabut in her women"s 68-73kg (middle weight) class on Saturday - though she was awarded joint-bronze after receiving a bye into the semi-final of the six-entry event.
Kim, though, was glad to report that his counterparts - most of whom are his compatriots - liked what they saw from his fighters.
"All the coaches said Brunei players had good fighting spirit and never gave up," said the South Korean on Saturday, adding he spoke to the coaches of Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Timor Leste and Indonesia.
Fighting spirit or not, Kim did admit he was disappointed with the way Fathullah's match against Romero, a 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games bronze medalist, ended.
Fathullah, a silver medalist at last year's Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships in Gyeongju, South Korea, came back from 6-1 to force a 6-6 tie at the end of the second round.
However, he was unable to last the entire fight against the more experienced Romero - with Kim saying tired legs were to blame.
"Fathullah got tired in the third round and couldn't focus after that... It was a real pity," said Kim.
"He got nervous and made a mistake which let his opponent land the winning kick.
"It's a pity because he has improved a lot from the last SEA Games," noted the coach.
Fathullah fell to Malaysia's Rusfredy Tokan Petrus in the first round of the same category at the 2011 Indonesia SEA Games and lost 11-1 to Singapore's Jason Tan in the same stage of the men's fin weight (below 54kg) category at the 2009 Laos SEA Games.
Nurulain, who took a two and a half year break from competing in the national team to concentrate on her studies, returned to the fray at October's Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG) in Indonesia - where Jehabut won silver.
Though only a few months have passed since her first round 5-2 loss to Bangladesh's Shraboni Biswas at the ISG, Kim said Nurulain has improved in terms of her "timing and the way she fights."
Fathullah also competed at the ISG and went down 14-1 to Turkey's Bildik Umuk in the first round.