Brunei’s chef de mission to the Rio Olympics, Umi Kalthum Hj Abd Karim (C), poses for a photo with national sprinters Md Fakhri Ismail (L) and Maizurah Abdul Rahim at the Rio Olympics in Rio de Janerio. Picture: Courtesy of Umi Kalthum Hj Abd Karim
BRUNEI’S chef de mission to the Rio Olympics is proud of the country’s three athletes for putting up a good fight against the best in the world.
There wasn’t any talk about finishing on the podium considering that none of the athletes — sprinters Md Fakhri Ismail and Maizurah Abdul Rahim and shuttler Jaspar Yu Woon Chai — qualified on merit for the quadrennial Games.
The sprinters participated under the universality places which the International Association of Athletics (IAAF) has opened to countries with no qualified athletes. Yu, meanwhile, was awarded one of the three Tripartite Commission Invitation places to contest in the men’s singles event - where he was the lowest ranked player at 407.
“It is a great honour for our top athletes to be given the opportunity to participate at this prestigious Games under the universality place and Tripartite Commission Invitation place based on their disciplinary events,” said Umi Kalthum, who won Brunei’s first gold medal in women’s pencak silat at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 1993.
“Competing against top world ranked athletes is every athlete’s dream, especially with the priceless exposure and experience received with a huge crowd of spectators from all over the world. “Our athletes were able to perform to their best with high spirit and determination to standardise their level on par with other world ranked athletes — who train full time.
“The strong spirit they showed really made us proud,” she added. Umi Kalthum also felt that competing in Rio was experience for the trio and believes they have got a bright future ahead should they continue working hard.
“For them to improve, they need to continue training on a full time basis with a proper systematic periodisation programme,” said the chef de mission. “Support from various sources is also needed as well as more international competition exposure,” she noted.
Yu started out the sultanate’s campaign with a 21-16, 21-15 loss to World No 12 Hu Yun of Hong Kong in their Group D men’s singles event on Saturday. He then fell to a 21-12, 21-10 defeat at the hands of World No 34 and reigning European Games champion Pablo Abian of Spain the next day.
Fakhri started strongly but finished third in Heat 3 of the preliminary round of the men’s 100m event with a time of 10.92s on Saturday. The result was enough for him to progress to the first round placing eighth overall out of 22 competitors. The 25-year-old then clocked 10.95s in Heat 1 of the tournament proper.
Fakhri’s best time remains the national record of 10.59s which he set at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore in June last year. Maizurah then closed out Brunei’s participation of the Games on Monday in the women’s 200m event where she crossed the line on 28.02s in Heat 8 of the opening round to finish at the end of the 72-competitor field.
The time was just short of a new personal best of 27.85s which she clocked at the Philippines Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) Philippine Open in April.