Fri, 17 Nov 2000

Umi Khaltum calls it quits after 10 years

JAKARTA (JP): After representing Brunei Darussalam for 10 years in many pencak silat events, Umi Khaltum binte Abdul Karim has decided to retire and concentrate more on her personal life.

"I've been practicing pencak silat since 1989 and I started playing in international tournaments in 1990. I think it's time for me to retire," she said on the sidelines of the 2000 Pencak Silat World Championship at Pencak Silat Center in Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, East Jakarta.

"But I'm not sure whether to retire after this championship or after the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. I have to think about it first," she added.

Umi received her bachelor's degree from the Sreitchleid University in Scotland.

"I graduated in sports in the community department in July. Currently, I'm working for the Ministry of Education," said Umi.

"I think it's time for me to start a new life outside pencak silat. It's quite boring to spend most of your time in practice sessions," said Umi.

Born on Nov. 6, 1972, Umi won gold medals in the B class (50kg to 55kg) in various events, such as the 1990 Merdeka Games, 1992 Silver Jubilee, both in her native Brunei, and the Singapore 1993 SEA Games. In the 1999 Bandar Seri Begawan Darussalam SEA Games she won a silver.

She was more concerned, however, on the lack of youngsters in Brunei to replace her.

"First of all, Brunei has a lack of pencak silat tournaments. There is only one annual tournament during the festivities to celebrate the sultan's birthday. I don't think it's enough for our pesilat (fighters) to compete," she said.

"Another reason is that pencak silat schools back home aren't developing very well. Besides, we only have about 10 active schools."

She also said Brunei emphasized more on martial arts events instead of fighting events which inhibited fighters' development.

"We brought an Indonesian coach, Pak Nasri, to improve our fighting skills," she said.

Commenting on competition in the championship, Umi acknowledged that skills had been evenly distributed among participants.

"I think the participants now have more or less equal skills. At least the gap is not as wide as before. We can't say that this country is stronger than the other," she said.

"It depends on our mental concentration now since our skills are equalized. Players who have better mental concentration will be the winners," she added. (nvn)