SILAT is still unheard-of to many in England eventhough the Pencak Silat Federation of United Kingdom was established about eight years ago. But that did not deter a small group of young exponents in London to take up the martial art as a form of self defence solely for the love of the sport.
A relatively young and inexperienced team of seven men and three women arrived on Monday to compete in the 12th World Silat Championship to be held at the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa) in Relau, Penang starting tomorrow.
Team manager Karin Langle said for eight of the pesilats this is their first international competition, while the two others had competed in the last world championship in Jakarta, Indonesia.
"We came here to provide exposure to our athletes and also for them to gain experience competing in big tournaments. "We are not expecting to win any medals, but it would definitely be good if we do so.
"This is not a district or a regional competiton, but a world championship, and we know our level," said Langle during her team's training session at Pisa yesterday. Langle said most of the exponents were university students while the rest were working full time, and they only managed to get the team together two months ago and started preparing them for the tournament. It would have been a much bigger team if not for the timing of the competition as the December month is always the examination month and they could not skip them.
The team trained under chief coach Setiyono Hakzah and his assistant Indonesian Harun AlRasyid. She said the Federation was trying its best to promote the sport in UK yet those outside London are ignorant of the sport. When asked about the negative reports of Malaysia being spread, Langle told Timesport that they were least worried about it all.
"All of us are from London and we are used to the IRA bombings and all those talk about Malaysia not being safe never at all detered us from coming here. "This is a lovely country and the people are all very nice and friendly, it would have been sad if we didn't make it here. "We were more worried of not coming here than coming here," said a jovial Langle.
The team led by Langle comprises Tony Shergill, Arif Kokkof, Shah Hague, Jason Davis, Arash Adami and brothers Sean and Adrien Kardar while the women exponents are Hannah Airashid, Anita Khorugdharry and Afcaneh Arghianey. A total of 350 exponents from 26 countries will compete in the championship which will end on Dec 21. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will declare open the championship at Pisa at 8pm today.
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