Shakir Juanda: Self-belief from seizing the moment

Shakir Juanda: Self-belief from seizing the moment

One of the most important traits a sportsman can gain from becoming a world champion is self-belief.

Such conviction manifests itself in future competitions, with the athlete feeling confident of facing any opponent, and his opponents fully aware of the tough fight they are in for.

So it comes as no surprise that Shakir Juanda is heading to his fourth SEA Games full of self-belief. After all, in November last year, he became Singapore's first world silat champion since 2007.

Yet, when the 25-year-old recalled his younger days as an up-and-coming silat athlete, the one thing he felt bereft of was that self-confidence. "It was a journey from nothing," he said. "There were times when I thought that progress will never come and it would demoralise me to the extent that I wanted to quit.

"Success came to me bit by bit, and in a way it helps me stay humble and focused in everything."

He recalls the many occasions when his confidence took a severe battering.

One of those soul-shattering moments came back in 2007, before he was first chosen to represent Singapore at the SEA Games.

Then, Shakir was a struggling athlete who was always behind former SEA Games and world champion Zulfakar Ramli in the pecking order for his weight category.

"He's someone I looked up to. But on the other hand, he always stood in the way of me representing the country at the major Games," he said.

"At one point, I kept losing to him and it was very tough. Every time there was a competition, I was in the reserve team."

Yet, Zulfakar was also the person who kept encouraging Shakir. He told him to keep faith in the sport which he first started in 2002, as an overweight teenager keen to shed the flab.

Shakir recalled: "He said, 'Shakir, don't ever give up. Keep training hard, believe in yourself, and one day you'll become one of the best.' Eventually, he managed to persuade me to keep going."

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