31st SEA Games Vietnam - Journey to Hanoi: SEA Games debut excites Silat's Siti Khadijah

An Asian Games bronze medalist and Silat SEA Championships gold medalist, Siti Khadijah will be competing in a different weight class for her first SEA Games

Siti Khadijah will be making her SEA Games debut at the upcoming 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

At the tender age of 17, Siti Khadijah Binte Mohd Shahrem has already clinched an Asian Games bronze medal in Pencak Silat for Singapore. She was competing in the Women's tanding 60kg category at the Jakarta 2018 Asian Games back then.

Having first made her bow for the Silat national team at the World Junior Championships in 2015, she then made her senior category debut at the Belgium Open in 2018 before swiftly raking in a double bronze medal haul at the Asian Games and Silat World Championships that same year.

Watch our full video interview with Siti Khadijah on Studio Plus here.

She then followed up on those impressive performances with a gold medal at the Asian Championships in 2019 before securing another gold at the 2022 SEA Championships in Singapore.

It is small wonder that while the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam is her first SEA Games, it is a stage that is not entirely alien to her, having competed at larger scale events and competitions on the world stage.

Siti Khadijah in training at the OCBC Arena, Singapore Sports Hub. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

When asked how excited she was to finally be making her SEA Games debut, Khad said with her usual cheerful smile, "I am very very excited especially with the new rules and my new weight class."

"I am really excited to give it my best shot. I am looking forward to my performance - like how I am going to perform, and how I'm going to fare in the team."

She then added, "I've been training hard for this SEA Games, and I really hope that everything goes well."

Limbering up before a simulation fight in her training with the Singapore Silat Federation at the OCBC Arena, Singapore Sports Hub. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

The 31st SEA Games will witness new rules for the sport of Pencak Silat applied for the first time at the Games, with these having first come into practise at the recently concluded SEA Championships held at OCBC Arena, Singapore Sports Hub.

Fights can now be contested and stopped during the bout itself, with officials being able to relook at footage with the help of VAR, while athletes are also allowed to use their elbows and knees in their fights - previously prohibited in the sport, making for a more thrilling but deadly experience.

With only two weight classes available at the Vietnam SEA Games, Singapore athletes who wished to compete also had to make the difficult decision and extra sacrifice to put on extra weight in order to be eligible for combat, with Siti Khadijah being one of them.

Poster of Siti Khadijah displayed prominently on one of the pillars of the Silat training hall in OCBC Arena, Singapore Sports Hub. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

"One of the biggest challenges is having to jump from my normal weight class, which is 55kg - 60kg all the way to 70 - 75kg," she said. "But I take it as a blessing in disguise as this means that I am able to focus more on my recovery as I do get quite a lot of injuries, and also to help bring up my weight in a healthy way."

The 31st Southeast Asian Games will be taking place from 12 - 23 May 2022 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Siti Khadijah during a TikTok shoot with SportPlus.sg at the Singapore Sports Hub. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG

SportPlus.sg is pleased to join hands with TikTok, the world's fastest growing social media platform, to shine the spotlight on the journeys of 10 of Singapore's SEA Games athletes in this 8-part series, and assist athletes with TikTok content creation to amplify their online presence for the Games.

Special thanks to Team Singapore, Singapore Athletics, Singapore Badminton Association, Basketball Association of Singapore, Football Association of Singapore, Singapore Silat Federation, Singapore Swimming, Volleyball Association of Singapore, Singapore Underwater Federation, ActiveSG Sport Centres and Chinese Swimming Club for supporting this series.

#SportPlusSG #TikTokSingapore #SEAGames31 #GoTeamSG