AFTER receiving a RM588,975 boost from the Youth and Sports Ministry, the Malaysian Karate Federation’s (Makaf) Olympic dream now rests on the shoulders of kumite exponents S. Prem Kumar and R. Sharmendran.
The two karateka are undergoing intensive training and a competition stint in Europe with the intention to face the best exponents in the world at the Karate Olympic Qualifying Tournament from May 8 to 10 in Paris, France.
As only the top three finishers in each of the weight categories will be able to secure a Tokyo 2020 berth when karate makes its Olympic debut in August, the 2019 SEA Games gold medallists have an uphill task ahead.
Nevertheless, Makaf secretary-general, Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad, is positive that 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist Prem Kumar and 2014 Karate1 World Cup champion Sharmendran will put up a good fight.
“We must thank the ministry and the National Sports Council (NSC) for the funds. We are looking forward to qualifying. We know it is not an easy job but we will fight for our place.
“They are now undergoing vigorous training and have high-level sparring partners who are under the supervision of Andris Vasiljevs. We hope for the best in Paris, ” he said.
Sharmendran, 27, will fight in his own weight category — the men’s under-75kg — while Prem Kumar, 26, will have to change from the under-55kg to the 67kg category as his class is not in the Olympics.
“I have no choice but but to add at least 8kg to to to compete in a different category. It will not be easy because it will have a big impact on my body in terms of speed and power, while techniques will change as well.
“This is a combat sport, meaning a very tough road lies ahead. But my dream is to fight in the Olympics and I will push myself for it, ” he said from Latvia.
Besides kumite, Makaf is also expecting the kata squad to go all out for a Tokyo ticket. — Bernama
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