Brunei's Finest Veterans
My spare time this week has been taken up calling up some of Brunei's athletes in order to complete my article on Borneo Games. I asked a number of people for names and my Minister gave me this name - Cikgu Haji Abdul Razak bin Bongsu. Finding his contact number was one of the easiest. Two of his children are engineers with the Public Works Department.
When we finally talked to each other, I discovered another whole world. When I was a student in Singapore in the 1970s, anything about Brunei always excited us. The lowest hill in the world then, which was a tiny bump somewhere in Shell's golf course. That got a mention in the Guiness Big of World Records. And the biggest story (to us students in Singapore) was an athlete Aloysius Sibidol winning world records for discus and javelin throwing. You probably are saying to yourself, huh??? Yes Sibidol established world records - in his age group. He was a veteran athlete.
I knew the world of veteran athletes was there but I didn't know how big. When I talked to Cikgu Razak, I finally realised that there is a whole world out there. These veteran athletes are still active - doing their best despite being above 40. Cikgu Razak is 71 and he is still competing. The veteran athletes have their own competition and well attended too. They even have their own association - Brunei Darussalam Association of Veteran Athletes (BDAVA) and is associated with Asian Veteran Athletics Association (AAVA) and World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA).
Cikgu Razak has taken part in many athletics meets. He was formerly the Secretary of the Brunei Amateur Athletics Association and Vice Chairman way back in 1975. He was the Chef du Mission for Brunei to the SEA Games in Jakarta (1977) and Manila (1981) and other regional meets. He also organised the Merdeka Games in 1984 and active in trying to revive the Borneo Games. He founded the BAVA in 1983 and since then has been the President.
Last month, the Brunei veterans athletes have done the nation proud when they grabbed eight gold, two silver and one bronze medals at the Singapore Masters Open Athletics Championship 2009 at Gombak Stadium. Eight local veteran athletes took part in 15 tracks and field events. You see, it does not really matter how old you are, you can still shine. Cikgu Razak and the other Brunei veteran athletes are the best example of that.