SINGAPORE – National pencak silat exponent Iqbal Abdul Rahman is a world champion and four-time Asian Championships gold medallist, however a SEA Games triumph has eluded him in 5 makes an attempt.
The 28-year-old, who competes in the creative class, is out to vary this at the upcoming version of the biennial competitors from May 12-23 in Hanoi.
“No athlete wants to finish second or third, and I want to be on top of that podium,” he advised The Straits Times in a current interview at the nationwide silat squad’s coaching base at the OCBC Arena.
“This is my sixth SEA Games so I feel it is about time I clinched that gold medal. I feel like my motivation level heading into this (edition) is so much more than previous ones.”
A silver medal at the final version of the SEA Games in the Philippines in 2019 is Iqbal’s greatest displaying. He additionally received a bronze medal in 2015.
Many of the conventional powerhouses in silat are nations in South-east Asia, like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, so competitors at the SEA Games stage is usually as fierce – and even more durable – than at the world stage.
Still, Sheik Alau’ddin, head coach of the Singapore squad, believes Iqbal has what it takes to triumph in Hanoi. He has seen Iqbal blossom from the time he picked up silat at the age of seven, to the athlete he’s in the present day.
“You can see the enthusiasm he has for the sport. He wants to be first, in front, in training and in competition,” stated Sheik, a two-time world champion and silat icon from the Nineties.
“He has been here awhile, he has always had good discipline and he has also developed leadership qualities.”
Sheik, who can be the chief government officer of the Singapore Silat Federation, stated Iqbal is one of three athletes he hopes can win a title in Hanoi.
He has set a goal for the staff to return with a complete of three gold, three silver and six bronze medals from the 16 occasions.
Although he declined to call which two athletes in the tanding (match) class he has pinned his hopes on for the different two triumphs, he stated he hopes as much as 5 can attain the last of their respective weight lessons.
They are half of Sheik’s “usual suspects”, particularly reigning world champions Sheik Ferdous, Sheik Farhan, Nurul Suhaila and Hazim Yusli.
Iqbal, nonetheless, famous that preparations for this version of the SEA Games have been difficult for the complete squad given the lead-up to the competitors has clashed with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Despite not consuming and ingesting from daybreak to nightfall, the silat athletes nonetheless prepare twice a day, 5 days every week.
“Most of us have never had this situation before, so we struggled a bit at the start. But from the second week onward, we’ve managed to pick up the pace and pull through what we need to,” he stated.
Sheik believes this might profit his squad.
“Training during this period is all about mental strength,” he stated. “It’s about persevering and not pondering, ‘I have to go slower or less intense because I am fasting’.
“Besides, if we can manage (the challenge), why can’t we manage other tough situations during competition? It makes the athletes stronger in their minds, hearts, and bodies.”
Iqbal’s males’s creative single occasion is scheduled to be amongst the first medal occasions – it is going to happen on the eve of the Games’ official opening ceremony – so he could possibly be in competition for Singapore’s first gold in Hanoi.
He stated: “It would mean a lot if I could grab that first gold for silat and it would be amazing if I am also able to be the first gold for Singapore. I’m looking forward to going in and aiming to be the first to win.”