KUALA LUMPUR: Unheralded exponent G. Yamini pulled off a stunning upset when she beat Busan Asian Games gold medallist S. Premila to clinch the women's below 60kg kumite gold medal on the first day of the National Karate Championships at KLBA Stadium in Cheras yesterday.
Yamini was not expected to have a ghost of a chance against Premila, who has been unbeaten in her category for the last four years.
Premila, who was the first Malaysian to win a bronze medal in the World Championships in Munich last year, was favoured to win as she had cruised through the earlier rounds.
However, Yamini produced a heroic display to turn the tables on Premila, beating her 3-1 in a final encounter between both representatives from the Hayashi-Ha karate club.
It was the first time since 1999 that Premila had lost at home. While she slumped down on the mat, there was joy in the other corner as Yamini celebrated her first ever success at a national level tournament.
The 22-year-old lass said she did not expect to beat her more fancied rival.
“This is the fourth time I had competed in the national championships but did not have any success.
“This is the first time I've won and I feel so happy,” said Yamini, who dedicated her success to her sensei (coach) - seven times SEA Games gold medallist P. Arivalagan.
Yamini said she hoped to earn a call-up to the national training squad this year.
“I hope to get selected for the Vietnam SEA Games,” she added.
Another Asian Games gold medallist R. Puvaneswaran also nearly had to suffer the same fate as Premila yesterday.
Puvaneswaran had to dig deep into his reserves before beating S. Mogna Raman 3-2 to secure his eleventh national title in the men's below 55kg kumite category.
There were no shocks in the kata (demonstration) team and individual events.
Busan Asian Games medallists Lim Lee Lee and Ku Jin Keat emerged victorious to retain their respective titles in the women's and men's individual kata.
It was the seventh successive gold medal for Lee Lee and fifth for her boyfriend Jin Keat.
Kuala Lumpur SEA Games gold medallist Rayner Kin Siong also lived to his billing when he took the men's below 80kg kumite gold.
Below 55kg: 1. R. Puvaneswaran (Hayashi-Ha), 2. S. Mogna Raman (Hayashi-Ha), 3. R. Sashindran (Mal), Fridey Jennie (PDRM).
Below 60kg: 1. S. Sasitharan (Hayashi-Ha), 2. R. Premnath (Hayashi-Ha), 3. Tonny Ho (Sab), Khairul Khafiz (Sel).
Below 80kg: 1. Rayner Kin Siong (Sab), 2. V. Murugan (Hayashi-Ha), 3. P. Torairaju (Sel), Yeap Beng Hee (Pen).
Individual: 1. Ku Jin Keat (Goshin Ryu), 2. Eow Chee Tiong (Pen), 3. Cheah Boon Chong (Goshin Ryu), Hisham Michael (Sab).
Team: 1. Goshin Ryu, 2. Sabah, 3. Kelantan, Labuan.
Below 48kg: 1. K. Umarani (Sel), 2. Terry Alicia (Prk), 3. D. Deepa (Hayashi-Ha), K. Renuga (Hayashi-Ha).
Below 53kg: 1. P. Punithavathy (Hayashi-Ha), 2. Kogila Vaany (Hayashi-Ha), 3. Stephanie Jingkah (Sab), A. Sunthari (Prk).
Below 60kg: 1. G. Yamini (Hayashi-Ha), 2. S. Premila (Hayashi-Ha), 3. Clarice Aik (Sab), Norsita Omar (PDRM).
Individual: 1. Lim Lee Lee (Goshin Ryu), 2. Jaclyn Ch'ng (Goshin Ryu), 3. M. Yuvarthini (Prk), Zuriati Dollah (PDRM).
Team: 1. Goshin Ryu, 2. Penang, 3. Hayashi-Ha, Labuan.