BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei’s 30th SEA Games medallists have been awarded a combined $76,100 through the government’s Sports Excellence Incentive Scheme on Monday.

The financial incentive was shared between 36 athletes, seven coaches, two assistant coaches and six sports associations.

The incentive scheme was introduced in 1991 as part of the National Sports Policy to recognise and reward national athletes, coaches and sports associations for their achievements at regional and international competitions.

Brunei won two gold, five silver and six bronze medals at the 30th SEA Games – the country’s best showing at the regional multi-sports event on foreign soil since making its debut at the biennial games in 1977. The sultanate had sent 87 athletes to compete in 14 sports.

During the incentive presentation ceremony, wushu exponent Mohammad Adi Salihin Roslan earned $10,000 for his gold medal performance at the combined men’s nandao and nangun events.

MCYS Minister YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Hj Aminuddin Ihsan (R) presents wushu gold medallist Mohammad Adi Salihin Roslan (L) with the $10,000 cash incentive on Feb 17, 2020 at Hassanal Bolkiah Indoor Stadium. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Permanent Secretary of Culture, Youth and Sports Pg Mohd Amirrizal Pg Hj Mahmud said the ministry increased the incentive for gold medal winners in individual sports events to $10,000 this year to encourage the athletes to train harder towards excellence.

The national wushu team was awarded a total of $34,700 after bagging the most number of medals for Brunei with one gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

Wushu coaches Zhao Chunjie and Li Hui also received $3,600 each for their contribution to the sport.

Other medallists were HRH Prince ‘Abdul Mateen; HRH Prince Hj Jefri Bolkiah and HRH Princess ‘Azemah Ni’Matul Bolkiah who form part of the polo team that won gold in B Division: 0 to 2 goals and bronze in Division A: 4-6 goals.

HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah also received the cash incentive for winning the bronze medal with the national netball team.

The lawn bowling team picked up two silver medals, while pencak silat and karate exponents secured a bronze medal each.

In an interview with The Scoop on the sidelines of the ceremony, President of Brunei Wushu Federation Lim Boon Hua said incentives will encourage more youth to participate in sports.

Commenting on the wushu team’s success, Lim said there are better chances for winning medals in individual events compared to team sports as it is easier to focus on an individual athlete’s training.

“We just hope the public and the private sector will give more support to all the sports, not only to wushu because financially we cannot depend on the government,” he said.

Brunei’s 30th SEA Games medallists pose for a group picture during the cash incentive presentation ceremony on Feb 17, 2020. Picture: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Lim said training expenses are very high, with the association spending over $100,000 a year to train their athletes.

Most of the funds were raised from the private sector and government.

The athletes would undergo intensive training in China for any major sports meet, in addition to training in Brunei six days a week from 5pm to 8pm.

Their training in China usually lasts for one month, compared to athletes from Indonesia or Philippines who train overseas for at least six months.

Lim said it is important to expose athletes to international competitions and overseas training so that they know where they stand against their opponents.

“There is no difference between male and female athletes training in wushu. If they train hard, regardless of male or female athletes, they can achieve success.

“I know it is not easy for them, between training and studying for their O-levels, but they managed to achieve [success in both],” he added.

There are now 50 wushu athletes at the association. Of the number, 12 represented the national team at the 30th SEA Games.

Lim said the wushu team has already started training for the 31st SEA Games scheduled to take place in Hanoi, Vietnam next year.

They are also preparing for the qualifying round of the Youth Olympics Games in Macau after wushu was included as an official sport at the 2022 Dakar Youth Olympics.