Silver medalist paves the way
S'pore's first SEA Games medalist in wrestling talks about his passion for the sport. -AsiaOne
[Above: Mohammad Sulaiman with his coach, Sergei Beloglazov .]
WINNING the first wrestling medal - a silver in the 74kg weight category - at the SEA Games yesterday, Mohamad Sulaiman proved there is hope for budding wrestlers here.
The 27-year-old is also a pillar of strength for judo enthusiasts as he teaches judo in his free time.
"There is demand for me to teach judo to young students and even adults.
"Slowly, my duties as a coach started becoming my main line of work when I'm not training or competing in wrestling." he said.
Before wrestling, Sulaiman did combat sports like Judo and Brazilian Jiujitsu.
How did you get interested in grappling sports?
When I was very young, everybody was crazy over Bruce Lee and his martial arts skills. I guess from there I got interested, and took up Judo as a Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) in school.
Do you have a martial arts idol?
(Laughs.) I used to like Jean-Claude Van Damme as a kid because he looked good!
Who do you coach?
Usually they are students of secondary and junior college levels. But there are also martial arts instructors who want to learn judo to refine their art, pilots and even the prince of Bhutan!
The prince of Bhutan? Tell us more about that.
It's a long story, where it was initiated by the Olympic council. It was definitely memorable because I didn't just coach him but his bodyguards, police and armed forces too.
How do you motivate your students?
Firstly, I ask them if they face any problems (with judo). Sometimes, I do share stories from my personal experience and achievements with them. For instance, I would show them my medals and tell them "Look, these are mine. One day you can have the same; it's what you get when you practise hard."
There are times when they get lazy, but I will try to find their motivation. I believe all students have something that can motivate them.
Have you encountered students who 'aim too high'?
I will question their objective in learning the grappling sport. Some want to lose weight, participate in competitions, learn self defence or plainly want to learn what judo is about. Then only will I tell them realistically whether they are able to achieve it or not.
Does your family support you in your sports career?
My dad, formerly a bodybuilder, is a "man's man". He's always telling me, 'Son, you need to fight and train!' and has been supportive since I was young. Sometimes he would buy me new uniform, and even a camera to capture moments where I can learn to perform better.
What is most satisfying about coaching your students?
When they win of course!
What else do you do besides wrestling and coaching?
I like bowling and nightlife activities. Then again, even when I'm not training I would still think of new techniques to teach my students.
I have so many dreams to achieve! I believe one has to be ambitious to be successful, and not just be contented with what he or she already has. Even as a coach, I must keep up with new methods to improve. But for now, I'll concentrate on wrestling. After the SEA Games I'll think of what to work on.
Text by Michelle Tay of Republic Polytechnic.
This is a final-year project by Republic Polytechnic students in conjunction with AsiaOne.
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