Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin with the Brunei contingent. – FADHIL YUNUS
BY Fadhil Yunus
SEVEN members of the Brunei Darussalam contingent received a warm welcome as they returned home after an excellent campaign at the 2019 Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin welcomed the contingent at the Brunei International Airport in the early hours on Thursday.
During a gathering with the contingent at the arrival hall, the minister draped the victorious athletes with a congratulatory sash and gave a speech to convey his happiness for their accomplishments.
All four athletes in the Brunei contingent brought back medals. Hirdan bin Haji Abdul Kadir, a para athlete, scooped one gold medal, one silver and one bronze in the men’s open seated wheelchair javelin, men’s open seated wheelchair discus throw and men’s open seated wheelchair shot put events, respectively.
Meanwhile, Nor Hensan binti Haji Mataha, also a para athlete, snatched a bronze medal in the women’s open ambulatory discus event.
Brunei Darussalam national swimmer Christian Nikles bagged the gold medal in the men’s 17 and over 50m butterfly, while his teammate Nur Haziq Samil won bronze in the men’s 17 and over 200m backstroke.
The overall medal tally for Brunei currently stands at two gold, one silver and three bronze.
Also present at the Brunei International Airport were Permanent Secretary (Administration, Finance and Estate) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Youth and Sports) at the MCYS Colonel (Rtd) Pengiran Haji Maiddin bin Pengiran Haji Said, and Acting Director of Youth and Sports Mariam binti Ulat as well as officers from the Department of Youth and Sports.
Hirdan, who won three medals in the Arafura Games expressed his pride for his performances.
“I feel proud to obtain one gold, one silver and one bronze at the 2019 Arafura Games in Darwin. This marked the second time I achieved my best result with one gold, one silver and one bronze,” Hirdan told the Bulletin.
Previously, he achieved the same feat during the Asian Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2009.
Asked about the competition during the Arafura Games, he replied, “In the Asian Para Games, the event is contested in accordance to the class and category of the athlete.”
In contrast, the Arafura Games pits athletes from various classes into one specific category, which Hirdan said made it tough to win a medal.
He added that he met familiar faces in the Asian competition whereas in Arafura, he came across a different competitors.
“The competition in the Arafura Games is dissimilar to the Asian Para Games. In the Asian Para Games, I knew about the competitors as I have already competed against them.”
The national para athlete shared that he started intensive training for the Arafura Games last March including morning and afternoon sessions.
“Before the intensive training, we trained after office hours. At 4.30pm, we went to the gym. We train so we can preserve our stamina.”
Hirdan has never accomplished a gold medal in the men’s open wheelchair javelin event till he ended the drought in Darwin, adding that silver was previously his finest achievement.
The national para athlete could not describe his feelings after learning that he won his first gold medal in the Arafura Games.
Hirdan had completed his throws by the time the final athlete took his turn and his distance could not be surpassed by his rival, confirming his gold medal status.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin