There has always been something magnificently ordinary about Ain Aissa since I saw her take part in the Independence Day Public Speaking Competition last December – which she won and walked away 5 thousand ringgit richer. There are the trappings of superstardom, but none of the affectations. There is the flair of the prima donna, but none of the ego. There is confidence, but never arrogance.
That ordinariness was on full view as Ain made her way to the finals of the recent Borneo Debating Championship with fellow team-mates, Fareez Shah and Atiq Zaki. The limelight swarmed around the VIPs, the adjudication core and the noisy debaters from UPM (LOL), flashlights illuminating their faces, but Ain, emerging from the discussion area, almost faded into the crowd.
She had just lit up one of the great annual championships of Malaysian debating with a strand of powerful, consistent debate performances from the prelims to the grand final but, in the bowels of the debate hall and the debate community, she seemed to retreat to the shadows.
She spoke to the me, after the finals, and did so with assurance as she tends to do these days, as she praised her team-mates for their first-class performance. But she is never quite as comfortable talking about herself as others are. Where she spoke matter-of-factly about her contribution, others were effusive.
Most enthusiastic of all was me. To quote my comment to a close debate friend about her recent successes: Ain is the “antithesis” of most cocked-faced debaters — “earthy, real, not manufactured, what you see is what you get”. I know class when I see it. “Ain was exceptional throughout the tournament,” I said. I hope she’s a contender for the Worlds Best Speaker and WUPID at the end of this year.
That is the way I look at Ain. I’ve seen her from being a clueless debater. I judged in her debut for UTMARA and I have watched her score great speeches in and out of local debate tournaments. It is amazing to see. If the word amazing is appropriate, it is because there had been times during the start of her debating career when Ain seemed to go unnoticed by me.
Is there a danger that Ain could be peaking too soon, that she could arrive in Botswana for the Worlds or Kuala Lumpur for WUPID feeling the kind of fatigue that has been such a factor for many good debaters in previous tournaments?
Burnout won’t be a problem, I say. She can sustain that level until mid-January next year. Of course she can. Ain is ready for any game. She has supporting girl friends and families, and she comes across the type that works hard. She will soon get her reward for that.
She was awarded the Best Overall Speaker at the recent Borneo Debating Championship 2010.