So, so close for Syakilla in World Karate final

PETALING JAYA: Syakilla Salni Jefri Krisnan came up short in her bid to become Malaysia’s first world champion in karate.

Syakilla’s cautious approach in the women’s kumite below 61kg final cost her dearly as she went down 1-0 to Egyptian Giana Lofty in the final of the World Championships in Bremen, Germany, on Saturday.

The song ‘The Final Countdown’ by rock group Europe was reverberating around the arena when Syakilla made her historic appearance as the first Malaysian to fight in a world championship final. Sadly, it failed to inspire the 23-year-old from Klang.

Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) secretary Vincent Chen said stage fright got the better of Syakilla.

“The Egyptian was a two-time world junior champion. She has obviously more experience fighting on a raised center stage.

“It’s still a very good experience for Syakilla. This is her first World Championships and she will learn from this outing.

“In fact, she exceeded our expectations. We did not expect her to win a silver,” said Vincent in a telephone interview from Germany.

The silver was Syakilla’s second medal in two months. Last month, she won the gold at the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea.

“It is very difficult for an exponent to peak for two major events within a space of a few weeks. It’s a real feat for Syakilla to reach the final here. We are only the third Asian country to have an individual finalist after Japan (4) and Iran (2),” said Vincent.

Previously, Malaysia’s best result at the World Championships was a bronze won by S. Premila in the women’s Open in Madrid in 2002.

Malaysia have a chance to claim a second medal with the men’s kata team of Thomson Hoe, Emmanuel Leong and Ricky Leong taking on Turkey in the bronze-medal playoff in the men’s kata team on Sunday.
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