His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council (BNOC), yesterday urged the national athletes representing the country at Friday's 3rd Asian Indoor Games to make full use of the chance given to them to compete in the 10-day event in Hanoi, Vietnam.
"The athletes should make full use of the chance since an opportunity like this would not have occurred if not for hard work and sacrifice," said His Royal Highness. "This is the best time to bring glory to the country, create a name (for yourself) and open opportunities in the future.
"Everything that is needed by an athlete to succeed is provided free of charge and there is a big possibility that Brunei is the only country in the world (that does this)," he added.
He made the comments during a flag handover ceremony at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas where he presented the national flag to the national contingent's chef-de-mission Mariam Ulat.
The Sultanate will be represented by 13 athletes competing in three sports: billiards, pencak silat and wushu.Wushu is a surprise inclusion in the list after initial reports by the Department of Youth and Sports stated that the country will only compete in billiards and pencak silat at the Games.
Though the Games have been held for three times, this year will mark the country's first appearance at the event and His Royal Highness acknowledged the importance of yesterday's function.
"This is another important day in the development of sports in the country because national athletes will compete in the Asian Indoor Games for the first time," said the president.
"I wish to congratulate the athletes that have been chosen and my message is always work hard, remain focused and take care of your health, because those three things are important to achieve success.
"We have to understand that this flag handover is not just a routine ceremony because the flag is the country's symbol that all authorities have to respect (and) the athletes' glory is the country's glory," he added.
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, is the Sultanate's only representative in billiards, with 10 athletes flying the flag for the country in pencak silat and two in wushu.
The 2007 SEA Games silver medallist Norleyermah Hj Raya will compete in the triple event with her sister Norleyharyanti and Nurul Aimi Amalina Zanidi, while the only other female pencak silat exponent, Siti Zuliza Omar, will take part in the tanding event.
Hj Md Khairul Bahrin Hj Duraman will compete in the solo event while Freedy Asnrul Choo, Khuzaiman Ahmad, Mohamad Amali Hj Abd Malik, Mohd Kifli Hamzah and Pg Khairul Bahri Pg Ali Umar will compete in the tanding event.
Wushu will be represented by Faustina Woo Wai Sai and Lee Ying Shi.
With all of the pencak silat athletes involved in the Gold Project programme, the team's manager said he had high hopes for them.
"They are all from the Gold Project so there is no bronze or silver (on our mind), all our targets are gold," said Pg Karim Pg Hj Matassan. Including Mariam, the full contingent of 24 is made up of among others 13 athletes and three coaches. (The Brunei Times)