National taekwondo development coach Nurul Hannah Abdul Mateen Kim @ Byung Hee Kim. Picture: BT/Yee Chun Leong
The national taekwondo team during a training session at the SMRC, Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas yesterday. Picture: BT/Yee Chun Leong
THERE is no letting up for the national taekwondo team despite being without a national coach.
Kim Jung-jun resigned as the national coach in the first week of January due to personal reasons, and national development coach Nurul Hannah Abdul Mateen Kim @ Byung Hee Kim has taken over the duties. The team – a combination of national, junior and academy students – currently train daily except for Thursdays. Nurul Hannah, who was the national coach from January 2001 to April 2009, holds sessions in the Belait district from Monday-Wednesday and in the Brunei-Muara district from Friday-Sunday.
Assistant coach Asmawi Ibrahim also helps take care of training. Despite having to take care of more athletes, Nurul Hannah doesn’t feel that there are any problems. “Things are fine with me because it was like that last time as well,” said Nurul Hannah in an interview with The Brunei Times during a training session at the Sports, Medicine and Research Centre (SMRC) at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas yesterday.
“We just have to work together, but training sessions sometimes do get extended. “My focus is on the development of the sport and help athletes improve before sending them to the national team,” she added. Kim’s last outing with the team was last August’s Borneo Cup International Taekwondo Championship 2015 in Kuching, Sarawak, where they finished as second runners-up in the open category with a haul of seven gold and three bronze medals.
For now, Nurul Hannah is gearing the team up for the Malaysian Games (SUKMA) to be held in Kuching in July. Other than that, she is also targeting the Malaysia International Open Taekwondo Championships slated for August. “The focus for this month and next month is on fitness,” she said.
“We need to build up our stamina first before moving on to basic skills and muscle strength. “After that training, will be at a medium level before turning to intensive (training) three months before SUKMA. We are targeting two athletes for poomsae (forms) and six for sparring events at the Games,” she added. When asked on the difference on the sport when she first arrived compared to now, Nurul Hannah replied: “It has grown and is getting better.”
“There is an increase in the number of clubs and athletes, and even the junior development is good. “The only thing is that it is a bit more difficult to find female athletes. There are only a handful compared to their male counterparts, but we are constantly looking for more,” she concluded.