Puva – Malaysian old hand in Thai corner

  • Other Sports
  • Monday, 09 Dec 2019

Overjoyed: Malaysia’s R. Puvaneswaran (second from right), Thailand’s coach celebrating with his karate team (from left) Khamsi Tippawan, Supa Ngamphuengphit and Arm Sukkiaw yesterday.

THERE was a familiar face in the Thailand corner during the kumite matches at the World Trade Centre in Manila.

Malaysian karate legend and former national coach R. Puvaneswaran guided his Thailand charges in the women’s kumite 55kg and 61kg final, and also the men’s kumite 67kg final.

What made it more interesting was the fact he was egging on Khamsi Tippawan (55kg), Arm Sukkiaw (61kg) and Supa Ngamphuenphit (67kg) against his former charges in the national setup.

Tippawan lost to P. Madhuri but Sukkiaw and Ngamphuengphit beat M. Mathivani and Mohd Arif Ariffuddin Abdul Malik to win two golds for Thailand on the second day of karate in the SEA Games.

For Puvaneswaran, it was extra special because it was his birthday. The two-time Asian Games gold medallist turned 45 yesterday and hopes to see another gold from Thailand today.

“These athletes fought really well. From my perspective, we deserved the two golds and we hope to win one more today from one of the kumite events,” he said.

“Of course, I felt nervous because we were fighting Malaysia. Madhuri, Mathivani and Arif were my athletes before. Being a professional, I did my part for Thailand.”

Thailand have exceeded their tally in the 2017 SEA Games, and for Puvaneswaran, the improvements shown by his team have been tremendous.

He took charge of the team in the 2017 SEA Games and has achieved reasonable success over the years.

In Kuala Lumpur, they won one gold, six silver and five bronzes and in last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta, they won one bronze.

“Now we have won two already. It shows that the exponents are only getting better. For me, I have achieved my personal target.

“I still divide my time between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. As for my future in Thailand, I cannot predict anything at the moment,” said Puvaneswaran, who still runs karate classes in Kuala Lumpur.

“For the time being, I am happy with the team and the management is happy with us.”

Tippawan apologised to Puvaneswaran after she lost her bout to Madhuri, but he was happy to see her progress as an athlete.

“The Thais are very respectful. Even if they perform well, if they feel that they have made a mistake, they immediately apologise.

“Yes, there is a language barrier, but they understand my coaching,”
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