PETALING JAYA: Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan has made history by becoming the first Malaysian exponent to top the World Karate Federation (WKF) Karate 1 Premier League Series overall ranking for women’s kumite below 55kg category.
In the Karate 1 Premier League Series ranking list released on Wednesday, the 25-year-old finished the 2016 season with 2,115 points – thanks to four successive podium finishes from the seven legs she competed in.
In April, Syakilla beat reigning world champion Sara Cardin of Italy to win gold in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, before taking silver in Salzburg, Austria. She then earned a bronze in Istanbul, Turkey, early this month.
Two weeks ago, Syakilla came close to winning her second Premier League Series title for the year, but was beaten 3-0 by Frenchwoman Emilie Thouy in Hamburg, Germany.
Another Malaysian woman exponent, Shree Sharmini Segaran, is ranked eighth in the Premier League Series ranking with 880 points. Shree Sharmini, the 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist in the below 68kg category, clinched bronze medals in Salzburg and Istanbul.
The Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) have carefully managed the transition of Syakilla and Shree to lower weight categories, which they feel that Malaysian exponents stand a better chance of doing well in.
Both are key players in Makaf’s long-term plan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the sport will make its debut.
But the question now is whether Incheon Asian Games gold medallist Syakilla can live up to her billing as the top-ranked exponent in her category at the World Karate Championships in Linz, Austria, from Oct 25-30.
Syakilla won the silver medal in the below 61kg category at the World Karate Championships in 2014.
Makaf are hoping that Syakilla will go one better and make history by winning gold in Linz.
“We are proud to see Syakilla become the world’s No. 1 ranked exponent in her category. She is also the first South-East Asian exponent to do so,” said Makaf secretary Vincent Chen.
“Looking at her performances in recent tournaments, she will be one of the favourites at the world meet. We’ve never had a world champion, so we hope Syakilla can pull it off this time.
“She came close to doing it at the last world meet in Germany ... she has matured since then.”