AOTM November 2023 – Brunei’s Top National Wushu Star Athlete Basma Lachkar

Basma Lachkar is Brunei’s top national wushu star athlete, and she has put Brunei wushu firmly on the map with several historic sports milestones for her tiny nation. She won the gold medal in taijiquan/taijijian combined at the 2022 Birmingham The  World Games – her country’s first ever gold medal in The World Games. Then in 2023 she won the silver medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games – becoming Brunei’s first ever Asian Games silver medalist in any sport. This win was bittersweet, as Basma dedicated her historic medal to her late mother. She is also a two-time taiji silver medalist in the SEA Games, a silver medalist at the 2023 FISU World University  Games, and won a gold and a silver at the 2019 Asian Junior Wushu Championships. Most recently, she won the bronze medal in taijiquan at the 16th World Wushu Championships in 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wushu Beginnings

Basma, now 20, started practicing wushu when she was 9 years old in middle school, and soon began competing in national wushu events in Brunei. In 2016, her coach decided to move Basma to taiji events, as he believed that her physical abilities, especially her flexibility, would offer her the best opportunity in taiji for growth and improvement. “I trusted in his judgement,” states Basma, “and that is the most important part of the process being an athlete.”

Her international debut in taiji was in SEA Games 2017 in Malaysia, when she was only 14 years old. She won a silver medal in taijiquan, and recalls, “I was really young and even though I was inexperienced, I’m grateful to be given the chance to participate in such a big event.” Two years later at the next SEA games in the Philippines in 2019 she won a silver medal again in taijiquan, and a bronze medal in taijijian.

 

A Stunning Golden Win at The World Games

The Covid pandemic dampened sports competition for several years, but back in Brunei Basma kept training with an intense focus and refining her taijiquan. She was chosen to represent her country at the 2022 Birmingham The World Games, and she awed both the audience and the judges with her beautiful and powerful movements. She was awarded highest marks and won the gold medal in taijiquan/taijijian, making history for Brunei with its first World Games gold medal ever. “It was an honor,” says Basma, “to win a first gold medal in history, and in wushu, for the country. It was unexpected, I felt so thankful and happy that the hard work paid off after my coach and I trained so long for it.”

Lachkar BASMA

Becoming a sports hero in Brunei, Basma suddenly was thrust into the national spotlight and became a role model for younger athletes. “I hope this experience can help more young athletes in Brunei see that there is so much opportunity in wushu,” she says. “And I hope this will motivate them as well.”

An Historic Medal for Brunei at the Asian Games

A year after her World Games success, Basma was competing at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games, and won a silver medal for her country in taijiquan/taijijian, coming in second place right behind China. This was another historic moment, the first silver medal ever for Brunei in the Asian Games, and when she flew home she was greeted as a hero at the Brunei Airport by ebullient crowds and presented with a sash by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Modestly, Basma says about her Asian Games experience, “I felt grateful and thankful to be able to do this for the country as well as my coaches. It took a village to get the achievement. Also, the physiologists helped us to get our bodies in top shape to push through our limits. My father who has been here for me, and my coaches especially, without them I will not be able to be where I am physically nor mentally for the game.”

Perhaps most poignantly, Basma dedicated her historic Asian Games medal to her late mother, who passed away in October the year before, a short time after the World Games. Basma says, remembering, “She was more than a mother – she was my backbone, motivator, inspiration and my role model. She’s everything to me. I feel like she has been with me since day one and she has always been there for me and for all my ups and downs. I would always dedicate all my joys and achievements to her. I was happy that I was able to win a gold medal during The World Games because a while after that competition, she passed due to cancer. Even though it was a sweet moment to others, it was bittersweet to me.”

“For my first Asian Games,” Basma continues, “I was sad that I couldn’t perform my best, but despite that, I think she still believes in me, and it’s hard to know how to go on without her. With the Asian Games, I wish she could have stayed a little longer and that I could show to her that this was the result of her support after all these years.”

16th World Wushu Championships

Most recently, in November 2023, Basma traveled with the Brunei Wushu Team to Fort Worth, USA, to compete in the HYX  16th World Wushu Championships. Basma had first competed in a World Championships in 2019 in Shanghai, where she gained good experience. With her previous wins, the pressure was now far greater, and the taiji competition was fierce. In her first event, Taijijian, a point deduction knocked her off the podium. But the next day, despite the pressure, Basma gave a beautiful, strong and elegant taijiquan performance to clinch the bronze medal.  “There were a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure, “Basma says. “But in the end I just want to perform and do my best. I just wanted to not have any mistakes, and enjoy my performance.”  Much of her confidence came from the support of her coaches, and her team, but especially it came from her father and brother who helped her find calm and focus. For Basma, the 16th WWC became even more special because her 18-year old brother Walid was also competing in his first World Championships, placing fourth in gunshu and eighth in daoshu – looking most certainly to follow in his sister’s winning footsteps.

A Passion for Wushu in Brunei

Basma gives much credit for her success to support from family, team, government, and coaches. “We always have, “she says, “support from the Ministry of Sports as well as the Brunei Wushu Federation. We have chances to go to overseas for training and competition to gain experience. The best wushu moments are when the team comes together and supports each other during competition. I feel their encouragement in my heart and it never fails to touch me.”

“Sometimes I feel the struggle when I have to juggle between studies and training,” Basma says. “It is hard to balance 50/50 but there are times when I need to make sacrifices to make one part work. Being away from my family can also be difficult, especially when they are my biggest motivator.”

Thinking about the future, Basma says, “I wish to train and achieve the best I can, and continue to work with my beloved coaches. I also think that despite my achievements, Brunei Wushu will grow because of them, as they spread the passion for wushu in Brunei and to the young generation.”  She adds, “I will always do my best for Brunei and, most importantly, to achieve my coach’s wish – which is for me to enjoy the game.” Ever modest, Basma is undeniably a hero to this generation; and having made wushu and sport history at the mere age of 20, she most certainly has a bright and shining career ahead of her, with an even more golden road to follow.

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