TWO years ago, the silat exponents arrived in Jakarta for the Sea Games with pomp and glamour.
Officials were confident they would be the ones to beat and even deny hosts Indonesia the lion's share of gold medals.
In the end, the exponents were reduced to making allegations of biased judging as Indonesia took 17 of the 21 gold medals at stake.
Malaysia won none and had to settle for a meagre haul of five silver and three bronze medals.
Two years later, expectations are again high. The Malaysian exponents are looking at a possible five out of the 21 gold medals at stake in Brunei.
Not even the absence of world champion Nor Haslinda Ahmad, forced out by an ankle injury, can prick the optimistic mood prevailing in the silat camp.
"We will miss Nor Haslinda but I believe we have other exponents who are capable of winning gold," said coach Chin Hajeed
Nor Haslinda was the sole woman from whom a gold medal was targetted as the other four who will be contesting in silat olahraga (combat) are Sea Games debutants.
The other women are Roshamin (Class A), Rina Jordanan Adnan (B), Rozita Latiff (C) and Shabnam Mokhtar (D).
That shifts the burden of winning gold onto the shoulders of the men and Chin believes they are up to the task.
Azhar Ahmad, who will be competing in the 75-80kg combat category, is one of those targetted to win gold. Azhar won a world championship gold in 1997.
Zakri Ibrahim's chances should not be discounted as he had shown before he is capable of rising to the occasion.
A gold medallist in the Chiangmai Games in 1995, Zakri lost in the quarterfinals in Jakarta but is intent on returning from Brunei with a medal.
Malaysia are also banking on one gold from the silat seni (artistic) events and have targetted the trio of Ramizan Maanap, Yefrizal Nadzir and Shahrulnizam Kasim to deliver.
The possibility of surprise gold medals is always there as the judging, which came under tremendous bashing in Jakarta, is expected to be fairer in Brunei.
"We have been assured that the Jakarta episode will not be repeated and that is our guarantee as well. We will definitely do better than our 1997 achievement."
FACT FILE PENCAK SILAT Squad : Exponents Men (combat): Rosmin Kamil,
Shuhardi Chin, Nordin Atan, Rizal
Mohamed, Zulkifli Seman, Fazly Mansoh, Azhar
Ahmad, Azrin Abdul Malek Faisal Omar, Zakri
Artistic: Hisham Othman, Marwan Mat Rus,
Mohamed Zainal, Ramizam Abdul Manaf,
Yefrizal Nadzir, Sharulnizam Kasim.
Women (combat): Rosnani Hassan, Rina
Jordana Adnan, Rozita Latip, Shabnam
Artistic: Che Siti Hajar Che Abdul Rahim,
Noorsyahiddwati Abdullah Sani, Shalina
Abdul Ghafar. Manager : Datuk Mohamed Satim Osman Coaches : Jaheed Chin, Jufri Osman Venue : Youth Centre, Bandar Seri Begawan Medals at Stake : Silat Olahraga (combat): 15 gold,
15 silver, 30 bronze. 1997 Achievement : 5 silver, 9 bronze 1999 Target : 5 gold Competition Dates : August 9-14
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