One world champion's misfortune is another's gain.
Silat star Shakir Juanda, who won the Class H (80-85kg) tanding (match) title at the 2012 World Championships, has been ruled out of next month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil due to a knee injury.
The 26-year-old, who is the national captain, will still compete in the ganda (artistic doubles) event he has been pencilled in for, but his place in the tanding event will go to 17-year-old Sheik Farhan, the son of silat great Sheik Alau'ddin.
Farhan, who shot to fame after winning the Class J (90 to 95kg) title at the 2015 World Championships in Phuket, in January, was initially left out of the squad as there was no Class J at the SEA Games.
But the Singapore Silat Federation (Persisi) yesterday announced that the Singapore National Olympic Council has approved its application for Farhan to replace Shakir.
Sheik Alau'ddin, who is also Persisi chief, said: "I spoke to Shakir for an hour before we came to this decision and I didn't see any disappointment or stress in him.
"Right now, he just wants to recover and reach about 80 per cent of his full fitness, and try to win the ganda event.
"Farhan was always training hard, even when Shakir was well. And after Shakir's injury last month, we told him to drop his weight and he's already at 84kg now."
Farhan is thankful for the opportunity and intends to make the most of it.
He said: "Of course, I am happy to be given the chance, but also sad because this wasn't the way I wanted to get into the squad, at the expense of my injured captain.
"I'll use it as motivation and, like any other competition I take part in, I'll always aim for the top and try to win the gold at the SEA Games."
Shakir suffered the injury during the final of the South-east Asia Pencak Silat Championships last month, when his opponent, Rizal Sobri of Malaysia kicked him on the outside of his left knee after the Singaporean attempted a leg sweep on his opponent.
Scans later showed the SpexScholar had a grade two anterior cruciate ligament strain, as well as partial tears of his medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament.
He has been undergoing intense rehabilitation at the Singapore Sports Institute up to four times a week over the last three weeks, but full recovery has proven a step too far.
Said Shakir: "I consider the tanding category my forte. So, of course, I'm letting go of the spot with a heavy heart. "I just tell myself that I have to think about the future and that missing this SEA Games does not mean the end of my silat career."
This article was first published on May 12, 2015.
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