Team Singapore Silat training indoors ahead of their participation in the upcoming Asian Beach Games. Photo: SportSG
Instead of an air-conditioned arena, Team Singapore Silat will find themselves competing outdoors in under a week, on the sandy beaches of Danang, Vietnam, at the Asian Beach Games (ABG) 2016.
Having debuted at the ABG in 2008, silat is making its second appearance at the Games, and head coach Sheik Alau’ddin Yacoob Marican holds high expectations for his athletes despite the unfamiliar conditions that they will be competing in.
In fact, in a bid to acclimatise the team to outdoor conditions, Sheik Alau’ddin has been conducting regular training sessions at East Coast Park and at Singapore Sports Hub’s beach volleyball courts.
It’s the first time that this batch of silat exponents will be competing in an outdoor arena, and the challenges have been apparent, with some athletes experiencing physical discomfort due to the intense heat.
“The heat and the sand brings you down, and the non-stop training is tough,” said Sheik Alau’ddin.
Despite competing outdoors, the athletes are still expected to be in their heavy black uniforms during the competition, which could potentially cause overheating over lengthy periods of time.
“Balancing is also an issue. If you see choppy sand, that’s dangerous,” he continued. “When you stand, your feet will sink in, which is dangerous for joints.”
During the 2008 Asian Beach Games, a silat athlete from Indonesia had twisted his knee while performing a back-sweep move on the sand – a move which Sheik Alau’ddin has warned his athletes not to perform this year in order to prevent injuries.
“When you twist and your feet don’t follow because they’re still in the sand, your knee will be twisted too. But other than that [move], it’s all fine,” the head coach explained.
Coach Sheik Alau’ddin believes his charges will have to face a different set of challenges when competing on the beach with a different surface and unpredictable weather. Photo: SportSG
Other challenges include unpredictable weather conditions and balancing difficulties, but these are not all that the athletes have to deal with while preparing for competitions.
18-year-old Nurhanishah Bte Shahrudin will be taking part in three events: Tanding (match), Ganda (artistic double), and Regu (artistic team). On top of juggling both the fighting and artistic aspects of silat, she is also a full-time student.
Such a hectic schedule might seem daunting but to Hanishah, it is her passion that pushes her, and she is optimistic about her performance at the ABG.
“This is my first ABG. I’m participating in three categories, which not many can do. I guess I [will] challenge myself, and try to win medals for all three,” she expressed.
“[Training] is definitely painful, but we have to persevere,” said Nur Azlyana Bte Ismail, who is Hanishah’s partner for the artistic double.
“We have been working very hard and this is really the time for us to show our talent.”
In the team’s first appearance at the Asian Beach Games in 2008, they returned with two bronze medals for the nation. This year, the athletes are looking to surpass this result.
Among the Team Singapore Silat athletes that will compete, Nurul Suhaila is a favourite to win a gold medal, according to Sheik Alau’ddin.
A recent recipient of the Sports Excellence (spex) Scholarship, Suhaila has never achieved a gold medal in major silat competitions before, but remains hopeful that this edition of the ABG will be a significant step forward for her.
“This is quite a big event, so I’m hoping for a gold medal. But I [will aim] to reach the finals first, then work from there,” she said.
Team Singapore Silat will be competing at the Asian Beach Games from 27 September 2016 at Danang, Vietnam, and we wish them all the best!