KUALA LUMPUR: The performances of the national exponents in the World Championships in Madrid last year have raised hopes of a good showing in the World Cup, to be held in Sweden from July 29-Aug 1.
At the World Championships last November, S. Premila became the first Malaysian to bag a medal in the series, winning a bronze in the women's Open individual kumite competition.
And Ku Jin Keat and Lim Lee Lee fell just short of getting on the rostrum as well. Both finished a creditable fourth in the individual kata event.
The Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) secretary, Clement Soo, said: “Our exponents have improved tremendously over the last one year and we are confident that we can win more than a medal in the World Cup. The competitions in the World Cup is not as stiff as in the World Championships.”
He added that Malaysia's chances to win medals were brighter because exponents from several countries would give the championships a skip because of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
“Exponents from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, who are badly affected by SARS, are unlikely to be represented,” said Clement.
Malaysia will have a 13-member squad for the championships and Premila will spearhead the challenge.
The men's team comprise kumite exponents R. Puvaneswaran (below 60kg), Lim Yoke Wai (below 65kg), A. Alexandar (below 70kg) and S. Mahendran (below 75kg); and kata exponents Jin Keat, Yeoh Swee King and Cheah Boon Chong.
The other women exponents in kumite are B. Kugila Vanny (below 53kg) and Agnes Tan (above 60kg); and kata exponents Lee Lee, Thoe Ai Poh and Jaclyn Ch'ng.
Clement added that the Asian Championships, scheduled for November in Taiwan, had been postponed.
But he said the inaugural Malaysian Open would be held as scheduled from Sept 19-22 at the Uniten in Kajang to prepare the national exponents for the Vietnam SEA Games.
“Except for the Singaporeans, we will invite all the South-East Asian exponents. Singapore are badly affected by SARS and I doubt they will want to take part,” said Clement.
He also said that Malaysia would take part in the Commonwealth Championships, which would be held in Manchester on Aug 30 and 31.
Meanwhile, the national championships will be held at the KL Badminton Stadium in Cheras on June 13 and 14.