MALAYSIA did the unprecedented when they emerged as silat overall champions in the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games two years ago.
They capped it off with a memorable five-gold finish, a feat which silat exponents had never ever achieved before.
The exponents will be defending their respective titles next month in Hanoi, Vietnam, next month and the onus is on them to try and repeat the historic feat two years ago.
Prior to their record haul in 2001, Malaysia's best was three gold medals and the worst was in the 1997 Games where they finished without a gold.
And there are grave doubts if the national silat exponents can match their last haul of five gold medals.
This is due to the fact that over the last two years some of the countries have improved tremendously in the categories to be contested.
The Malaysians, however, are not about to be upset.
Team spirit is running high in camp and their focus remains on gold.
It doesn't matter if they will not enjoy the support they did in Kuala Lumpur.
However, coach Ahmad Khusairi Ibrahim is not too worried about the tough competition his exponents have to face, and believes they are capable of handling themselves.
In fact, the coach is drawing confidence from the presence of a number of exponents whom he has retained from the KL Games.
Among those expected to retain their titles are Azrin Malek, Mastura Sapuan, Mohamed Zubir Ismail and Mohamed Amin Saadon.
Mohamed Zuber and Mohamed Amin's efforts in winning silver medals in last year's World Championships should be, if anything, comforting and are worth gold in Vietnam.
Then there's the silat seni duo of Nooryhidawati Abdullah Sani and Shalina Abdul Ghafur who are also prospects for gold.
They are among the 10 men and nine women exponents under Ahmad Khusairi's wings. and Ahmad Khusairi believes he has a quality squad capable of delivering the glitter.
To ensure they are well prepared, the Malaysians had been to Vietnam and Myanmar for tournaments earlier this year as part of their preparations.
Written by LEE KENG FATT
Sourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-21917490_ITM