PETALING JAYA: Hosts Malaysia have a real fight on their hands at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games if the results at the just-concluded Karate 1 Premier League in the United Arab Emirates are anything to go by.
None of the Malaysian exponents made it to the medal rounds in the third leg in Dubai, but arch-rivals Indonesia rejoiced with a silver through newcomer Krisda Putri Aprilia in the women’s kata individual.
There was further joy for Indonesia as Sari Srunita easily whipped Podium Programme’s Shree Sharmini Segaran 3-0 in the last eight of the women’s kumite below 50kg.
Syakilla Salny Jefry Krishnan, the 2014 Asian Games gold medallist and the other female exponent in the elite-only Podium Programme, fared worse. She went down 0-1 to Russian Valeriya Borisova in the first round of the women’s kumite below 55kg.
The Malaysian men also failed to impress. Senthil Kumaran, who fought his way to a silver in the kumite below 60kg in the first leg in Paris in February, was ousted in the quarter-finals after losing 0-4 to Samdan Eray of Turkey in the last 16.
The men’s kata team of Ivan Oh, Hoe Thomson and Emmanuel Leong exited in the second round after a 1-4 loss to Iran. The Malaysian trio lost to Indonesia in the semi-finals but fought their way back to bag the bronze in the second leg in Rotterdam, Holland, last month.
Thomson was the only Malaysian to reach the kata individual quarter-finals. He, however, lost 0-5 to Spaniard Damian Quintero and his bid for a bronze ended with a 1-4 defeat to Hong Kong’s Chris Cheng in the penultimate round of the repechage.
Lim Chee Wei, the 2014 Asiad gold medallist, and Emmanuel were sent packing in the second round.
Based on their performances in the three legs, the fast-improving Indonesians can certainly spoil the party for Malaysia in the SEA Games from Aug 19-31.
Indonesia were overall champions in karate when they hosted the 2011 SEA Games with 11 golds, but Malaysia ruled in Myanmar in 2013 with seven golds.
Karate was not contested at the Singapore Games in 2015.
Malaysia Karate Federation (MKF) secretary Vincent Chen said the Malaysians have their work cut out for them in their bid to be overall champions again.
“We need to improve in the kata events, especially in the men’s section. But we still have time and our exponents have yet to step up their training,” said Vincent.