Since the start of December, Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau’ddin has been honing his fighting skills at a training camp with his fellow Team Singapore silat athletes.
The 20-year-old is preparing for the World Pencak Silat Championships, which will be held from Thursday (13 December) to Sunday at the OCBC Arena.
As the reigning men’s Class J (90-95kg) world champion, he feels ready to take on all comers and aim for his third gold at the elite competition. Even though there will be strong home support, he is not too preoccupied with using that as a motivational advantage.
“Maybe if I’m losing, then I can feed off the energy of the crowd and not be discouraged,” he said on Wednesday.
“But I want to win in every competition I take part in, so what’s really important for me is to have that belief that I have trained hard and trained well enough to win the gold again. And I think I’m ready.”
Singapore athletes ready and eager
Such is his confidence, no doubt gleaned from emerging triumphant in the 2015 and 2016 editions.
In fact, he believes that everyone from the 29-strong Singapore silat athlete contingent is eager to show off his or her skills and competitive fire to the Singapore public. This is in spite of the athletes being unable to land a gold medal at August’s Asian Games in Jakarta.
“The athletes are all ‘tired’ of training, they just want to fight and compete for medals. And they are also tired of not winning gold,” said Singapore Silat Federation chief executive officer Sheik Alau’ddin Yacoob Marican, who is also Sheik Farhan’s father.
“I can see the hunger inside them, and I hope they can do the country proud.”
A former world champion himself, Sheik Alau’ddin hopes that his charges can eclipse the four-gold record that Singapore managed when it last hosted the World Championships in 2004. At the 2016 edition in Bali, Singapore won two golds, one silver and eight bronzes.
Strong contenders for gold medal
Besides Sheik Farhan, other Singapore silat exponents in contention for gold include his brother Sheik Ferdous Sheik Alau’ddin (silver medallist at the Jakarta Asian Games), veteran Muhammad Shakir Juanda (world champion in 2012 and 2016) and Nurul Suhaila (bronze medallist at the 2015 and 2017 SEA Games).
“The most important thing at this competition is to understand my strengths and weaknesses, take in all the advice from my coaches, and be able to use them to my advantage against any opponent I meet,” said Sheik Farhan.
Around 300 athletes from 40 countries – even non-traditional ones such as the United States, China and the Netherlands – will be making appearances at the World Championships, which the Singapore Silat Federation had only five months to organise.
Indonesia was originally slated to host the competition but withdrew as Prabowo Subianto, the chairman of the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association, will be contesting once again in the country’s presidential election in April next year.
Other Singapore stories: