Prem exacts revenge for controversial semi-final loss

  • Other Sports
  • Sunday, 08 Dec 2019

Here’s how I did it: S. Prem Kumar striking up a pose after winning the below 55kg kumite gold medal yesterday.

KARATE exponent Prem Kumar has been waiting for this moment for more than two years. And vengeance was sweet for the man whose name means “love” in Hindi.

The Malaysian, who had controversially lost to a Filipino in the semi-final two years, let all his grudges loose to exact revenge on a Filipino rival to clinch his maiden gold in men’s 55kg class.

The opponent this time was Norman Montalvo and he outclassed the rival 6-1, ending the fight with a stylish take-down and a follow-up punch to silence the home crowd at the World Trade Centre.

“This has to be the happiest day of my life,” said Prem, who was brimming with confidence throughout the fight.

“What I lost two years ago, I have finally got back.”

Prem was referring to the semi-final “loss” to John Paul Begar of the Philippines in Kuala Lumpur. Prem was initially declared the winner but after an official protest made by Philippines officials, the jury reversed the decision.

Prem was found to have flouted the rules by committing four offences, one more than the minimum three. He settled for bronze as a losing semi-finalist.

“I can never forget that day. After that defeat, I made a vow that I’ll come to the Philippines and make them pay back for what they took from me in my own country.”

Despite the thunderous cheers from home supporters for his rival, Prem looked solid throughout the contest.

“I did not care about the support he was getting from his countrymen. In fact, I loved the atmosphere. I took it as if they were cheering for me.

“I was prepared mentally and physically,” added last year’s Indonesia Asian Games bronze medallist.

Prem’s victory also put Malaysia back in the winning ways in the 55kg category for the first time since Palembang 2011.

This is the event Malaysia used to dominate through R. Puvanesvaran, Loganesha Rao and L. Kunasilan.

Malaysia narrowly missed out on a second gold through Ooi San Hong in the men’s kata (non-sparring) individual.

Debutant San Hong was pipped to the victory by Indonesia’s Yuda Zigi Zaresta Ahmad by mere 0.26 points after chalking up 25.0 points.

San Hong was still delighted with his achievement.

“I have mixed feelings. Sad because I missed out on the gold on my debut but also that I lost by a very slim margin, so I know where I stand,” said San Hong.

The silver augurs well for his future as he justified the Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) decision to pick him at the expense of 2014 Asian Games gold medallist Lim Chee Wei.

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