NAYPYITAW - Father-to-be Mohd Lokman Akimi Mat Raji leapt in sheer joy after punching his way to Malaysia's first ever Muay gold medal in the SEA Games inside a sardine-packed hall at the Wunna Theikdi Sports Complex here on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Lokman, oblivious to the deafening noise by the delirious and fanatical crowd, went on the offensive from the start to beat Vietnam's Nguyen Ngo Trieu Nhat 3-0 in the 51kg final.
After winning two rounds with his impressive upper arm skills, Lokman took it easy in the third and fortunately his opponent failed to take advantage.
The skinny police constable dedicated his sensational victory to his soon-to-be-born baby. His wife Noraini Che Husna is expected to deliver in March.
The Pasir Mas-born Lokman was happy that all his sacrifices had paid off.
He had to stay away from his family for more than a month during the intensive training stint with his team-mates in Bangkok, Thailand.
And he also had to go on a diet to shed four kilos to be able to compete in the 51kg event.
"I am so thankful right now ... words cannot describe my happiness. I have won Muay's first gold for Malaysia in the SEA Games," said a trembling Lokman.
When asked why he was shaking, he said: "I have lost four kilos over the last two months and the final bout was punishing. My body is still reacting to it.
"But it is all worth it. This is for my soon-to-be-son. My wife will be very happy. All the hard work, sacrifices and punishing training has paid off."
Malaysia are taking part in Muay for the first time in the SEA Games and Lokman was delighted to have made a breakthrough in the sport.
"All this would not have happened if not for the support of Persatuan Muay Malaysia (PMM), NSC (National Sports Council) and the police force. I hope they will continue their support for the sport," added Lokman, who took up the sport when he was 14.
Head coach Bernard Radin, however, wished that there were some crowd control inside the hall to prevent a tragedy from happening.
Thousands of fans pushed themselves into every empty space inside the stadium including the players' entrance area.
"We know Myanmar love this sport but they should not have allowed everyone to enter the packed hall. This is not right and can pose a security threat to the athletes," said Bernard.