TWO years ago, it was the best achievement for the Malaysian silat exponents in the history of the SEA Games.
The team delivered five gold medals in Kuala Lumpur and it helped the Malaysian contingent in the overall medals tally.
However, the challenge this time in Vietnam is tougher as the other countries have shown much improvement in the various categories.
The Malaysian exponents who are expected to deliver the gold again are Azrin Malek, Mastura Sapuan and silat seni duo of Nooryhidawati Abdullah Sani and Shalina Abdul Ghafur.
The two other gold medallists - Ismail Darus, has decided to call it a day, and Ahmad Faisal Omar is now the assistant coach to the team.
The 10 men and nine women exponents are training under coaches Ahmad Khusairi Ibrahim, Ahmad Faisal and Othman Jupri.
Besides the four gold medallists, the squad also have the services of Mohamed Zubir Ismail and Mohamed Amin Saadon.
The duo won the silver at last year's World Championships.
Ahmad Khusairi said the exponents should make full use of their vast experience to deliver the goods.
"They know the kind of challenge in SEA Games and it will be tougher this time.
"But as far as I'm concerned, we have a quality squad.
We even sent the exponents to compete in Myanmar and Vietnam in the last two months," he said.
"We have been monitoring the progress of the exponents and I'm confident they will peak in Vietnam and meet the three-gold target." Prior to winning the five golds, Malaysia's previous best was four at the 1989 KL SEA Games.
It will be interesting to see if the exponents can better the achievement of the 2001 SEA Games.
FOR THE RECORD Competition dates: Dec 7-12 Venue: Sports Gymnasium, Hanoi Medals at stake: 22 Association target: 3 golds OCM target: 3 golds The squad Team manager: Adnan Zakaria Assistant team manager: Datuk Mat Lazim Coaches: Ahmad Khusairi Ibahim, Ahmad Faisal Omar, Othman Jupri Men: Amir Ikram Rahim, Ahmad Shahril Zailuddin, Muhamad Amin Saadun, Zuber Ismail, Majid Maidin, Azrin Malek, Emy Fadly Aziz, Fazzli Ali Bagas, Marwan Mat Rus, Muhammad Zainal Women: Shalina Ghafar, Noorsyahidda Wati, Suzy Sulaiman, Rina Juliana Adnan, Siti Jameelah Japilus, Mastura Sapuan, Amy Latip, Helena Nama Payon Nadus.
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