LAST_UPDATEWed, 20 Jun 2018 7pm

SEA GAMES: Details Behind Our Double Gold

/The Star/The StarNAYPYITAW: From a stable boy to a SEA Games champion. Kuala Terengganu-born Mohd Sulaiman Muda will leave Naypyitaw as a double SEA Games gold medallist after riding to victory in the 80km equestrian endurance event at the National Equestrian Centre in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

The riders went for a double strike to bring Malaysia’s gold medal tally to five ahead of the official opening of the Myanmar Games with Abdul Halim Alihan and Asri Abdul Aziz joining him to bring their horses across the finish line for the team title.

This is the first time that the discipline is being included in the SEA Games since 2001 in Kuala Lumpur when Datuk Awang Kamaruddin Abdul Ghani galloped his way to the country’s first gold medal.

Endurance equestrian is usually held at night in the region due to cooler temperatures and to avoid the horses getting dehydrated.

Despite being presented with local-bred horses by the organisers, Sulaiman managed to bring his stallion under control and he eventually passed the Indonesian challengers with one loop to go.

Sulaiman completed the three-loop 80km distance in 6’26:04.

Indonesia’s Yusnar Yusuf took silver with 6’26:05 while his team-mate Otto Satyawan clinched the bronze with 6’59:00.

The SEA Games organisers provided the competitors with local horses and the national team, who are used to the Arab breed, were unfamiliar with the horses at first.

”The horse was edgy and scared of sudden sounds like people clapping when we started last night.

”It was also dusty at first and I just followed the pack from behind.

”I was not confident of my chances at first as you need time to tame the horse.

”I had to use my experience to get the horse used to me.

”Wild horses tend to use up a lot of energy and this is not good for an endurance event,” said Sulaiman, who started riding in 2008.

On how he started, Sulaiman added he was working in the stables at the Royal Terennganu Endurance Stable when its manager Che Mat Din Ismail invited him to try out riding instead.

”He gave me the opportunity and I eventually became good at it,” said the 27-year-old.

Che Mat, who is also the team manager, said the two gold medals were not expected.

”The Equestrian Association of Malaysia only promised two medals for equestrian as it was hard to predict our chances this time considering we are all competing at the SEA Games for first time.

”These two golds are the perfect boost to our campaign with show-jumping and dressage disciplines to come.”




-The Star