SINGAPORE: Silat exponent Nurul Suhaila Mohamed Saiful paused as tears well up in her eyes.
These were tears of joy, tears of overcoming adversity, tears of a SEA Games champion.
"So many years of doubting myself, getting the bronze three times was very hard for me. I spent a lot of time away from my family," the 27-year-old told reporters after beating Malaysia's Siti Shazwana Ajak 30-22 in the women's Class E (65-70kg) tanding final.
This is Suhaila's first Games gold.
"So this time, I wanted to make my parents proud and prove to them that the time away is worth it, it’s for me to grow, to be the best athlete that I can be. I hope my parents are proud of me."
And there were many reasons to be proud for Suhaila and Team Singapore's silat exponents as they would win three golds on their final day of competition on Monday (May 16).
This brings their total at the 31st SEA Games to four gold, 3 silvers and 4 bronzes - silat's best showing at the SEA Games for Singapore. The previous best for Singapore's silat exponents came in 2003 in Hanoi, when they won 3 gold medals.
Prior to the final day of competition, the silat team had already clinched one gold, one silver and four bronzes at the Games.
After Suhaila's victory, Muhammad Hazim Mohamad Yusli would make it two golds from as many finals as he beat Indonesia's Muhamad Yachser Arafa in the men's Class C (55-60kg) tanding final
His opponent was disqualified towards the end of their match for an illegal kick with scores tied at 21-21.
Abdul Raazaq Abdul Rashid would then take silver in the men’s Class F (70-75kg) after he lost 14-42 to Vietnam's Tran Dinh Nam.
Sheik Ferdous also claimed silver in the men's Class G (75-80kg) event. He had to withdraw from competing in the final on doctors' orders after being punched illegally by a Thai opponent in his semi-final the day before.
Three-time world champion Sheik Farhan wrapped up the competition with a gold when he beat Thailand's Saranon Glompan in the men's Class J (90-95kg) final. He was leading when his opponent forfeited during the second round.
"I'm just happy in the direction everybody is going," said Sheik Farhan. "It's easy to succeed when everyone else is succeeding because you get inspired and become more motivated to win together."