BUKIT JALIL: The number of exponents in the taekwondo national elite team will be increased from seven to 24 by the end of the month.
Ahmad Fauzi Latiff, National Sports Council's (NSC) officer of international preparations said yesterday that all gold and silver medallists in the Sukma Games in Negri Sembilan would be inducted into the squad.
“We will also be looking at the winners of the national junior championship which was held in Ipoh in April.
“The present pool of seven elite exponents is not sufficient to compete in international competitions,” said Ahmad Fauzi at a press conference to announce the team for the 5th World Junior Championship (sparring event) and International Junior Poomsae Opening Festival from June 12-18 to be held in South Korea, in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
“If necessary, we will have a selection competition to decide who gets in,” added Fauzi.
National coach K.M. Rajendran said: “We are looking at increasing the pool by 17 exponents. The Malaysian Taekwondo Association (MTA) will be discussing the matter with the NSC in the next two weeks.
“I will draw up a training plan once I return from the World Junior Championship. I expect the new exponents to be selected before the end of the month,” said Rajendran.
Meanwhile, MTA will be sending two junior teams to compete in international competitions in South Korea later this month.
Four boys and five girls will be competing in the 5th World Junior Championship (sparring event) while two boys and seven girls are taking part in the inaugural International Junior Poomsae Opening Festival. Both competitions will be held from June 12-18.
Rajendran said: “We are not going to the World Junior Championship for exposure. We are going there to win medals. I am confident that they will deliver.
“This is the world championship and of course the competition will be tough. But unlike other sports, there are no seedings at junior level. So, there is chance our exponents might end up meeting strong exponents in the early stages.
“I am hoping that we will receive a favourable draw. I expect the South Koreans and Iranians to be the leading contenders in the championship,” said Rajendran.
Sharil Ismail who won a silver medal in the World Junior Championship two years ago is one of Malaysia's leading medal prospects.
“My target is to come home with a medal. Winning a gold would be an added bonus. Definitely, there is a lot of pressure to deliver for the national team,” said Sharil who will be competing in the bantamweight category.
“I have to go into the ring and put aside the pressure to concentrate on winning,” added Sahril who recently won a gold medal in Sukma in Negri Sembilan last week.
Another exponent who looks likely to deliver a medal is Asian Junior Championship silver medallist Ryan Chong.
Ryan who will be competing in the featherweight category said: “It's going to be tough. I expect the South Koreans and Iranians to be my main challengers. The biggest pressure is actually is the high expectations that I set for myself. I hope it all comes together when I start competing.”
Another Sukma gold medallist Nurul Nadia Mahamat will also be competing in the featherweight category.
World Junior Team
Boys: A. Logaraj (flyweight), Sahril Ismail (bantamweight), Ryan Chong (featherweight), Tham Yip Hon (light middleweight).
Girls: Nurul Asfahlina Mohd Johari (finweight), Denise Ko (flyweight), Nurul Afiqah Harun (bantamweight), Nurul Nadia Mahamat (featherweight), Nurul Syazwani Abdul Razak (lightweight).
International Junior Poomsae Opening Festival Team
Boys: Lee Chye Hau, Kor Hong Wu.
Girls: Noor Rafidah Ashari, Rurynee Roslan, Rugene Roslan, Kor Pei Yun, Liew Khai Jing.