KUALA LUMPUR: Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan has earned a big honour for karate as she has been named the flag-bearer for the Malaysian contingent in the Asian Games to be held in Indonesia in August.
The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) executive board met on Tuesday (July 10) and decided to pick Syakilla as the first karate exponent to be given the honour.
She will lead the nation’s contingent in the marching-out during the opening ceremony in Jakarta on Aug 18.
The other names who were also considered were shuttler Lee Chong Wei, diver Pandelela Rinong, squash player Nicol David, track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang and sailor Khairulnizam Afendy.
OCM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said they decided to settle on a new face in Syakilla this time, especially as karate will be making its Olympic debut in Tokyo in two years time.
“She may be a new face but has already made the country proud previously. She is ranked top in Asia and she was also a gold medallist for Malaysia at the last Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in 2014.
“We also wanted to project karate, as the sport will be making its first appearance at the next Olympics in Tokyo,” said Norza.
Syakilla is not the first karate exponent to be the flag-bearer at a major games with multiple sports.
R. Puvaneswaran, a two-time Asian Games gold medallist, had the honour of leading the contingent in Hanoi, Vietnam for the 2003 SEA Games.
Syakilla bagged the women’s kumite below 55kg title in the Paris Open to mark a perfect start to the year in January.
Malaysia will be sending 447 athletes for the Asian Games, which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang.
A total of 40 sports will be contested this time.