21 November 2003

Inseparable duo out to grace their way to gold

THEY have been together for five years, and know each other's moves by heart.

The silat seni duet of Noorsyhidawati Abdullah Sani and Shalina Abdul Ghafar will be out to grace their way to a gold medal in Vietnam, for they know the steps like the back of their hands.

"I started practicing silat seni while in primary school and it is now second nature to me. In the duet routine, one needs an equally strong partner and I have Noorsyhidawati to thank for when we won the gold medal in the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games," said Shalina.

Barely five feet, both will perform with a sword and a wooden bamboo in their dance routine - almost similar to the routines of wushu exponents.

Shalina revealed: "In our discipline, there is no contact so it is not dangerous. And when we are in competitions, we make believe that it is just another routine practice day, and with that attitude, we have always won medals at international meets." In the 1999 Brunei Sea Games, the duo won a silver which was upgraded to gold in Kuala Lumpur two years later, and in Vietnam, they are confident the judges will like their performance.

"It all boils down to how one feels on competition day. If the both of us are in good health, we are sure to impress the judges and stand to win a medal," said Noorsyhidawati.

Besides the Sea Games, the inseparable duo have won bronze in the 2000 Jakarta World Championships, and silver in the 2002 World Championships in Penang.

Silat has a hard act to follow in Vietnam, as the exponents will be hard-pressed to match the record five gold medals the contingent won in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.

The other four gold winners were Mohamed Azrin Malek, Mastura Sapuan, Ismail Darus and Ahmad Faisal Omar.

Ismail has quit the sport since, while Ahmad is now an assistant coach. Mohamed Azrin and Mastura are still in the squad.

Zubir Ismail and Amin Saadon, silver medallists at last year's World Championships, are the remaining members of the squad.

Before KL, Malaysia's previous best was four gold medals at the 1989 Sea Games.

Sourced from http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-21916815_ITM

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