PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) are not leaving any stones unturned to help kumite exponents S. Prem Kumar and R. Sharmendran to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Prem won his maiden SEA Games gold in the men’s 55kg class while Sharmendran picked up the 75kg gold in Philippines last months to underline their top billing.
The duo will next take part at the Olympic qualifiers in Paris, France, from May 8-10 and both need to finish on the podium to qualify to Tokyo.
Makaf secretary-general Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad said the duo would be training under former national team kumite coach Andris Vasiljevs in Europe.
Azmi said the national kata exponents will also get help in the bid to qualify for the Olympics but they will not come under any special programme.
“Prem and Sharmendran will train in Europe under a special training programme and will leave for Latvia on Jan 20. They were picked based on their performance in the last SEA Games... they will train under Vasiljev and take part in tournaments in Europe to build up for the Olympic qualifiers, ” said Azmi.
“There’s less than four months to the qualifiers. In this short time, we can only focus on tactics, fitness and correct technique of the athlete... so we decided on Vasiljev because both of them have trained under him before.”
Azmi said Makaf was grateful for the assistance from the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Youth and Sports Ministry.
“We know it’s tough to qualify for the Olympics but we want to give our athletes the best chance to do so.
“We were not under the Podium Program but the karate team’s performance in the SEA Games has convinced the ministry and the NSC to support our bid to qualify for the Olympics.”
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