15 November 2003

Exponents fired-up for three-gold target

IT will be difficult in the subjective silat seni, and national coach Othman Jupri believes it will be up to his exponents to come up with convincing performances to convince the judges.

However the silat olahraga exponents are fired up for the challenge under coaches Ahmad Khusairi Ibrahim and Ahmad Faisal Omar, who believe that the three gold medal target set by the National Sports Council (NSC) is achievable.

Four of the five gold medal winners from the Kuala Lumpur Games two years ago, will again be slugging it out in Vietnam.

Men's Class I (80-85kg) olahraga gold medallist Mohamed Azrin Abdul Malik has moved up a category to Class J (85-90kg) and will be joined by three women's gold medallists from 2001.

Mastura Sapuan will defend her Class E (65-70kg) title, while silat seni exponents Norshahidawati Abdullah Sani and Salina Abdul Ghafar are expected to have a tough time convincing the judges.

"In silat seni, it will be difficult because we won't be at home and the judging can sometimes sway towards the home team. But I still believe our exponents should do their best to convince the judges," said Othman.

Ahmad Khusairi said while centralised training began three months ago, the exponents have not had much competitive exposure.

"We had the World Championships in Penang last December, and the most recent one was the Asia Pacific Championships in Manila in August. It's hardly enough, but we have been preparing well and we are ready for Vietnam," said Ahmad Khusairi.

If the squad needed a boost than it surely came in the Asia Pacific Championships, where Khahorullah Abdul Majid delivered the country's sole gold medal in Class A (45-50kg).

"The target of three gold medals is realistic. Anything more than that, will be a bonus for us," said Ahmad Khusairi.

To back their words with effort, the squad have upped their pace in training at NSC in Bukit Jalil, even if it is mid-Ramadhan and the festive season draws closer.

Daily training sessions are scheduled for 3.0pm despite the athletes and officials fasting.

Sourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-21920129_ITM

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