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Friday October 18, 2013 MYT 8:20:00 PM
Friday October 18, 2013 MYT 8:21:46 PM
Andris Vasiljevs watching two karate exponents during a training session in Bukit Jalil on Oct 18, 2013.
KUALA LUMPUR: A year has gone by since Latvian Andris Vasiljevs became the head coach of the national karate team.
And going by the way he was coaching and interacting with the Myanmar SEA Games-bound exponents at the Gymnasium 2 in Bukit Jalil yesterday, the 33-year-old Vasiljevs has fit in very well.
“I came in in August last year and have adapted well. I understand the mentality of the athletes here. It has been quite fun,” said Vasiljevs.
The former national fighter comes with high credentials, having coached Latvia and Hungary’s national teams.
He was with Latvia from 2006-2009 and spent another three years with Hungary from 2009-2012 and under his care, there were World Games winners, Europeans champions and many medallists in other international tournaments.
Vasiljevs, who did not pursue his career as an athlete because of an injury, said that there are differences in coaching European and Asian athletes.
“The culture is different here. The athletes’ understanding of the combat sport also varies. In Europe, an athlete has fundamental knowledge about the sport, its strategies, tactics and physical condition by the age of 10. They are also educated to be fit at an early age,” he said.
“Here, the process is different. The athlete learns many things only when he makes it to a high performance team. So, naturally, it takes some time for them to catch up. Some qualities need to be developed at the age of 15 years old and it can be hard once one passes that stage, Most of our athletes here are in their 20s.”
Vasiljevs, however, is happy to see the progress in his squad over the last one year.
“Currently, we have a relatively new team with most of them set to make their first appearance at the SEA Games. Some experienced ones have left the team because of either injuries or retirement. Despite that, this team is still very competitive.
“They are preparing very seriously for the SEA Games and have the qualities to fight for gold medals. I trust my athletes and I believe they will perform well. I am looking forward to them bringing glory for the country at the Games,” he added.
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karate, Andris Vasiljevs, coach, SEA Games
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