TWO years ago this month, the silat exponents gave Malaysia a present when they bagged a record five gold medals at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
A lot of changes have since taken place but four of the gold medal winners will be back to carry the nation's challenge to Vietnam in December.
Mohamed Azrin Malek, Mastura Sapuan and the silat seni duo of Nooryhidawati Abdullah Sani-Shalina Abdul Ghafur are part of the squad reporting for training today.
The two other gold medallists were Ismail Darus, who has since called it a day, while Ahmad Faisal Omar is an assistant coach to the team.
National Silta Association (Pesaka) secretary Megat Zulkarnain Datuk Omar Din said the four are part of nine exponents shortlisted by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).
"We are happy the OCM have approved the names we submitted to them last week," said Zulkarnain.
"Besides the four SEA Games champions, there are also two others - Mohmaed Zubir Ismail and Mohamed Amin Saadon - who were silver medallists at last year's World Championships.
"As such, we have a quality squad and Pesaka are confident we can match our five-gold haul in Vietnam." Prior to the five gold medals the squad won two years ago, Malaysia's previous best was four at the 1989 SEA Games.
As a build-up to the SEA Games, the 22nd in the series, Pesaka have approved two overseas assignments for the exponents.
The first eight-day trip is to Myanmar next month.
The team will then turn to Vietnam for another week's training.
"The Myanmar Sports Minster requested our presence in Yangon.
We have accepted the offer," said Zulkarnain.
"Because of these two trips, we feel it would be wise to skip going to the Europe Championships in November.
"The Europe Championship dates are too close to the SEA Games.
Moreover, we are afraid our athletes might injure themselves.
"They will gain enough exposure in Myanmar and Vietnam."
Written by GRAIG NUNIS
Sourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-24290262_ITM