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Thursday November 22, 2012

Debutant Ricky aims to continue winning run in Paris

PETALING JAYA: After bagging two international titles this year, kata (non-sparring) exponent Ricky Leong Tze Wai is hoping his form does not desert him in the World Karate Championships, which begin in Paris tomorrow.

The 25-year-old debutant will enter the stage as a two-time Asian kata champion.

Tze Wai retained his Asian title by defeating Japan’s Oki Itaru in Uzbekistan in July and he went on to become the first Malaysian exponent to win the K1 World Cup premier series in Busan the following month.

“Winning the kata gold in the Asian meet and the K1 World Cup are good achievements but the biggest is still the world championships. I have to be really focused as it’s the most prestigious competition for karate.

“It’s my biggest test as the Europeans and South Americans are really strong,” said Tze Wai, who moved to Penang a few years ago to hone his karate skills.

The kata national training centre located in Penang is headed by Patrick Lim Chee Jin and it has produced talents like 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games gold medallist Ku Jin Keat and Lim Lee Lee. The current world champion in men’s individual kata is Venezuela’s Antonio Diaz and it will be a big feat if Tze Wai can reach the medal rounds.

Tze Wai will combine with Kam Kah Sam and world junior championships bronze medallist Lim Chee Wei in the men’s team kata while Thor Chee Yee is the only Malaysian woman kata exponent in the fray.

Malaysia’s kumite (sparring) exponents will be stepping out with high hopes too.

Latvian Andris Vasiljevs and two-time Asiad champion R. Puvaneswaran took over the kumite team from P. Arivalagan at the start of the year.

Malaysia’s one and only medal at the world meet came from S. Premila, who took the bronze in the women’s Open division in Madrid 2002.

Malaysia will have 13 exponents at the biennial world meet.

Indonesia SEA Games gold medallist Loganesha Rao is the notable absentee as he is nursing a hamstring injury and has been replaced by 2006 Asiad silver medallist L. Kunasilan (below 60kg).

The other male exponents in the kumite team are Shaharudin Jamaludin (below 67kg), K. Teagarajan (below 75kg), Mohd Hatta (below 84kg) and newcomer Prakash Arjuna (team).

Guangzhou Asian Games silver medallists G. Yamini (below 61kg) and Jamaliah Jamaludin (above 68kg) will lead the women’s kumite challenge with Nur Eleena Malik (below 50kg) and A. Nisha (below 55kg).

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