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SINGAPORE — Singapore clinched its first gold medal at the Hanoi SEA Games on Wednesday (11 May), when artistic silat exponent Iqbal Abdul Rahman emerged winner of the men's tunggal (singles) competition.
The 28-year-old scored 9.960 points for his routine in the final to edge out Thailand's Ilyas Sadara (9.930 points) at the Bac Tu Liem Gymnasium.
While Iqbal is a world champion and four-time Asian Championships gold medallist, a SEA Games triumph has eluded him in five previous attempts. He had claimed a silver medal in the men's artistic singles at the last edition in 2019 in the Philippines and a bronze in Singapore in 2015.
Upon learning of his winning score, he dropped to his knees, overcome with emotion at finally earning his SEA Games gold.
"A lot of my team-mates, my coaches say that sixth time’s the charm," he told CNA after his victory. "Coming into the Games, I didn’t tell myself that I wanted to go for the gold. I told myself I wanted to give my everything, I didn’t want to go back to Singapore with regrets,"
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who is in Hanoi to support the athletes, paid tribute to Iqbal's determination in his pursuit of the SEA Games gold medal.
"We are so proud of Iqbal and I hope that the trail that he blazes as the first gold for Singapore will set an example for many others to come," he told reporters after Iqbal's victory.
"But his gold is also a tale of grit, resilience and determination. This is his sixth time at the SEA Games and I'm so proud of him for showing this grit and tenacity. I hope he inspires many more Team Singapore athletes to do the same."
Singapore also clinched a silver medal in the men's ganda (doubles) competition, as brothers Hazim and Haziq Mohammad Zaque (9.905 points) lost in the final to Malaysia's Muhammad Taqiyuddin Hamid and Sazzlan Yuga (9.950 points).
There was also good news from the Aquatics Sports Palace on Wednesday afternoon, as twins Ong Rei En and Ong Sze En earned a silver medal in the women's 10m synchronised platform diving competition.
Before Wednesday, Singapore had already captured three diving medals - two silvers and one bronze.