Back from Europe, but exponents need opponents

  • Other Sports
  • Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020

PETALING JAYA: Their European stint has been cut short and karate exponents S. Prem Kumar and R. Sharmendran have been ordered home.

However the two, along with their teammates will have to stay disciplined and in shape despite the current movement control order (MCO).

Their battle will be fighting against shadows when what they really need are sparring partners.

The Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) had been in the midst of preparing their athletes for the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Paris from May 8–10 but the World Karate Federation (WKF) have pushed the dates to June 26-28, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Makaf had sent Prem and Sharmendran to train under former national team kumite coach Andris Vasiljevs in Europe from January.

The duo had been taking part in several competitions in Europe and their last outing was at the Baku Open competition in Azerbaijan from March 5-8, which also saw two other national women karatekas, M. Mathivani and P. Madhuri, in action.

Sharmendran won the men’s senior below 75kg gold, Madhuri clinched the below 55kg gold in the both the junior and senior events, Mathivani won the silver medal in the senior below 61kg while Prem crashed out in the repechage round.

Makaf secretary-general Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad said the kumite athletes have always shown their grit and praised their discipline.

“I have no issue with our karatekas’ discipline, for example Sharmendran worked hard after his surgery to win the gold medal at the Philippines SEA Games. I know all of them will work-out at home despite the MCO.”

Azmi said his main aim was to get the kumite athletes sparring partners for them to improve.

“The kata athletes at least can train at home by themselves as they would know the movements and choreography but it’s tougher for kumite athletes,” said Azmi.

“They can only work on keeping themselves fit at home. But they need sparring partners to hone their skills. This is why I hope the Covid-19 situation improves.

“The global reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic and the MCO in Malaysia has affected our preparation ... we knew that we face a tough challenge to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as only 10 athletes per category will qualify and at the moment, half the places have been taken.

“Our plan is to give the athletes the best preparation to boost their chances to qualify via the qualifying tournament in Paris and the athletes did show progress in competitions in Europe.

“However, the qualifying tournament has now been pushed to June and Europe is slowly getting into a gridlock because of the Covid-19. We had to call back Sharmendran and Prem from Europe and it certainly affects their preparations.”

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